Book Review: “Queen Zixi of Ix, or, the Story of the Magic Cloak” by L. Frank Baum

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Queen Zixi of Ix, or, the Story of the Magic Cloak
by L. Frank Baum

The creator of the magical land of Oz, not to mention Mo and Ev, apparently had a thing for two-letter names. Another of his creations is Ix. At least as important as Ix, however, is the land of Noland, which also turns up in some of the Oz books. This is an extremely underrated book. Hidden in the shadow of all the Oz stories, this single stand-alone fairy tale may be the best thing Baum ever wrote, if not one of the greatest fairy tales ever.

The tale begins with the fairies weaving a magical cloak, which will grant to anyone who wears it one wish — provided the previous wearer gives it to them willingly. Then they decide to give this cloak to the first unhappy mortal they meet. They meet a poor boy named Bud and his sister Fluff, on their way to the capital city of Noland, whose king has just died; and whose absurd royal counselors have decided that the forty-seventh person to go through the city gates that day will be their next ruler.

No one reckoned on Bud and Fluff, or the magical cloak, or (worst of all), the centuries-old Queen of Ix, who is a wicked witch and who, naturally, craves more power. Throw in the intrigues of Aunt Rivette, the adventures of the five absurd Royal Counselors, and all the misunderstandings that come about because no one really knows what’s going on… and you get a serious adventure, combined with side-splitting farce, in a fairy-tale world that children of all ages will love.