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The Oracle of Maracoor: Volume 2 of Another Day – Gregory Maguire

“Rain, Rain, go away.

Come again another day…”

Note: Another Day is a new series taking place after the events of Out of Oz, the final volume of The Wicked Years. Familiarity with that series is not required to enjoy Another Day, but it definitely helps.

Gregory Maguire has written some of my favorite books along with books I haven’t been able to finish. His swings from a masterpiece (Wicked, Confessions of a Wicked Stepsister) to unengaging gibberish (After Alice) means every new Maguire book comes with trepidation about which quality level I’m going to get. I was then relieved to find The Oracle of Maracoor (and the preceding volume The Brides Of Maracoor) belongs in the top tier of Maguire’s work.

In The Brides of Maracoor, a young green-skinned woman with amnesia named Rain Thropp washed up on Maracoor Spot, a small island inhabited by a cloister of nuns (for lack of a better word) left to guard a mysterious artifact. Slowly Rain regained some of her memory with the help of her companion, an acerbic talking Goose (Iskinaary). Through a complex set of machinations, the book ended with Rain and the youngest Bride, Cossy, on the run in Maracoor Crown, the capital of the country of Maracoor.

Despite my love of Maguire’s The Wicked Years, I nearly gave up on the book for the first 100 pages or so of The Brides of Maracoor. That one took a very long time to get going. I was growing impatient with Rain’s convenient amnesia, and the glacial plot didn’t seem to be headed anywhere, with the introduction of characters in the Maracoor mainland that had little connection to the island. After the halfway point the story shifts gears and becomes a riveting tale of murder and deceit, with the mysteries of the island finally laid bare. The minor adjutant from Maracoor proper, Lucikles, whom we had been following throughout the book gets involved in the story in a big way. As the book closed the threads coalesced together and the momentum and tension held all the way to the cliffhanger ending.

The Oracle of Maracoor begins immediately at the close of the previous book. Rain, Cossy, Iskinaary, and a quartet of flying Monkeys flee the besieged city as the Skedes, a foreign army, attack the capitol. Meanwhile, Lucikles and his family have withdrawn to the countryside outside the capitol just ahead of the invasion. Where the first volume was nearly inert in its first act, Oracle starts fast and rarely slows down until the final page. For Maguire, this book is about as thrilling as he has written. This is a quest tale, with a disparate group of characters thrown together to seek out the Oracle for guidance on how to save the country. Yet for its story momentum, character development is his primary focus.

Throughout the book Rain continues to recover her memory, causing her pain as she recalls the events that drove her from Oz. Her journey into understanding, acknowledgment, and finally acceptance of her past is the engine driving the novel. At its core, The Oracle of Maracoor is about grief. This is where it helps to be familiar with what transpired in Out of Oz, specifically the shattering finale, to understand Rain’s actions. Without getting into spoilers, Rain finally comes face to face with her past in unexpected ways both literal and figuratively. This book is about the journey into understanding, acknowledging, and finally accepting tragic events and moving beyond her grief and anger.

Rain’s past is not the only focus of the book. What becomes more and more clear as the story develops is Rain unknowingly brought calamity to Maracoor. The characters are guided on their journey by creatures from myth that are awakening to protect the land from destruction. It is not hard to see this as an allegory for climate change and the planet trying to repair the damage humans have done. Several epic fantasy tropes are on display but subverted, such as the heroic king in hiding who may not be that heroic or the everyman who rises to the occasion to be a warrior (or not).

The pleasure of The Oracle of Maracoor lies in the continued story of Rain as she begins to come into her own and emerge from the shadow cast by her lineage. If you liked The Wicked Years I strongly encourage you to dive into the Another Day series. The final act in Oracle is a whirlwind of unexpected revelations and connections to The Wicked Years.

This tale is not over yet, Maguire has promised a third volume to come soon. The ending of Oracle ties up quite a lot of loose ends and leaves the story in a place where it can go anywhere. The only hint we have is in the title of volume three: The Witch of Maracoor. Knowing Maguire, the “witch” of the title may not be the character we expect. Regardless, I cannot wait to find out.

Another Day

The Brides of Maracoor (2021)

The Oracle of Maracoor (2022)

The Witch of Maracoor (Expected Publication 10/23/2023)

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