Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult
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I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
Love Wizard of Oz and Wicked? Be prepared to have your mind blown with this darker retelling of Oz. In Dorothy Must Die, everything we know about the Wizard of Oz has flipped on its head, with Dorothy as the evil princess and the Wicked witches as the good guys. Dorothy has let magic and fame get to her head and those who were formerly Wicked, have banded together as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to be rid of her omnipotent rule.
I enjoyed the detail that went into the world building and how the author weaves in parts of the original story, while making it her own. Horror permeates every detail to demonstrate just how twisted this new version of Oz is, like the existence of permasmile, gothic munchkins, ravens with human ears, monkeys who get dismembered and lots of gory happenings. Horror in YA is something that traditionally hasn’t been done well, but this mish mash of horror, fantasy, magic and a retelling was really unique and done really well, without the usual YA tropes pulling it down.
“Down is up, up is down. Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good. The times are changing. This is what Oz has come to.” – Glamora
Each character in Dorothy Must Die is vibrantly re-imagined to fit in with the horror theme. The cast of villains were all scary in their own right; Dorothy is this evil, attention seeking and power hungry villain who doesn’t bat an eyelid at brutalising people and reveling in it. Her original entourage are characters from nightmares, with the big, bulging lion who feeds on people’s fear, the scarecrow who does horrible experiments on the monkeys and other living things, and the Tin Man who has knives and other sharp objects as his limbs. The other secondary characters are just as compelling, as Glinda the good witch chills us with her permasmiled perkiness and Ozma walks around with brainwashed vacancy.
Amy Gumm, the replacement of the heroine in Oz, was also a fiery, rough and unique character who I enjoyed. With her pink hair, candid personality, ability to stand up to bullies, she’s not afraid to right wrongs and fight for what she believes in. As a girl raised in a trailer by her drug-addicted mother and being bullied at school by a pregnant cheerleader, her life in Kansas pre-conditioned her to deal with the horrific happenings in Oz. I loved how she had street smarts and had the brains to question things that didn’t make sense, and knew when to run away. I also liked her compassion when it came to saving Oz’s lesser beings, as she quickly makes allies in this deep, dark world.
So this was what I was up against. A psychotic midwesterner with a reservoir of magic who was never alone, surrounded by loyal killers that would disfigure one of their own without a second thought. – Amy
I was really pleased to find the romance not take center stage, with the focus on the mission and the plot. Amy doesn’t turn stupid or fawn over Nox, they don’t fall in love at first sight and they don’t lament about each other’s looks. They get attached because of the amount of time they spend with each other over training, which is how a relationship should develop. The romance was more of a side dish to the main plot though, and admittedly it doesn’t get too much of a focus.
There were however, quite a few flaws. The blurb of the book outlines a checklist of things that must happen before Dorothy Must Die. Most of these things don’t happen in this book and instead, will span out to the rest of the series.
The supposedly powerful gang of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked also devise a master plan of killing Dorothy, which involves keeping her in the dark about the major details. Which results in her attempting to murder the princess with a small knife, a plan that was doomed to fail. The last 2 pages of the book is also an incredible rush, shoving major plot reveals in just a few words, resulting in a major cliffhanger.
Dorothy Must Die is a fantastic fairy tale re-imagining of the beloved Wizard of Oz story, and turns everything on its head and churns it out into a twisted, nightmare version of Oz. With just enough of the source material, Danielle Paige takes creative license on the series and makes it into her own. Although it had a few flaws, it’s one of the most original retellings I’ve read in a long time as a wonderfully sensationalised, fun and nightmarish version of a classic tale. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and if you’re thinking of picking it up – do so now!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5