Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige Review: Twisted Nightmare Oz

May 14, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige Review: Twisted Nightmare OzDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 1, 2014
Source: Borrowed
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.

What happened?
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


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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85 responses to “Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige Review: Twisted Nightmare Oz

  1. I absolutely love Dorothy and her adventures in Oz so this sounds like a great book for me. I had no idea it even existed so I thank you for informing me of it. I'm going to go out and try to find it asap.
    Jessica D recently posted…The CraftysMy Profile

  2. Thank you Melissa, I have heard the same as well but overall I am glad I really enjoyed it! We don't need too many romances because if we did, then we'd read a romance book 😉

  3. Me neeeeeeeeds it! Needs it NOOOOOW *whines*

    I preordered it from TBD, but it doesn't come out on there until June. Ooh, can you read it to me? Just a bit each night. I'll call you, and you can read me to sleep.

    Orrrr, I can just keep camping in the bushes and read over your shoulder… Again.

    Your choice.

    (PS: Awesome review. Even if there were a few annoying bits and pieces, 4.5 stars from Jeann mean it's an instant buy for me)
    Kelly recently posted…Stacking The Shelves and Weekly Wrap #22My Profile

    • I can't wait until you get it Kelly it's sooo good! I'm going to get the paperback version of it as well. Hahaha I don't know how you do it, I'd have to read the story all the way through! Thank you Kelly, I'm glad you bought it and can't wait to see your thoughts.

      *throws cookie out to the bush*

  4. Yay! I'm so happy you enjoyed this, Jeann. One thing that doesn't get featured enough about this book is something you pointed out so clearly, and that's the FANTASTIC job the author did with the horror aspects of this book. What a ride, eh?! So excited for the next one.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Endsinger: cover reveal + giveaway questionMy Profile

  5. Oh yes, there were some really good bits but I have to agree, it did feel very heavily like a prequel. I also read about the Full Fathom Five stuff and unsure what I think of it. Thanks for commenting, Leeanna!

  6. I was really curious to see what you thought of this after I saw you were reading it on Instagram. I'm glad you enjoyed it! There were some really great things, like the characters and the world, that you pointed out. Really good review.

    I don't have my review posted yet, but I personally wasn't a fan… mainly because I felt it was set up for the rest of the series. I'm not the biggest fan of The Wizard of Oz actually, but I do think readers would enjoy this even if they don't like the movie.

    Also, it is a packaged book. When I was checking out other reviews, I found this, which explains all about Full Fathom Five.
    Leeanna @ recently posted…Blog Tour: Kissed (The Thorn Chronicles #1) by Kimberly LothMy Profile

  7. This sounds like my type of retelling! I love it when an author can put original twists on a well-known story, especially if those twists are dark ones. I don't come across that many YA horror (though there seems to be a lot releasing this year), and I really want to read more. Creepy, dark, and scary books seem to be some of my favorites (they can be so interesting!), and I'm always looking for more of them. I will definitely have to pick this one up soon!
    Kaitlin recently posted…Writer Interview with Belinda JolleyMy Profile

  8. I totally skimmed since I am listening to the audio but I am glad to see that despite flaws you rated this high. Thanks for all the comments over at Caffeinated this week. I am sorry I have not been by, I have pneumonia and it is kicking my arse. Hopefully I will be up and about soon 🙂
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…The Cursed by Heather GrahamMy Profile

  9. Most of the reviews that I've read for this book have been rather negative, so it's nice to get a different POV. I love fairy tale re-imaginings, but I still can't help but be on the fence about this one. I guess there's only one way to know for sure. LOL Glad you enjoyed it though, thanks for sharing!
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Question: How Do You like Your Werewolves?My Profile

  10. Oh yes I heard so many great things about this one so I'm glad to see that you had a wonderful time with it. I love retellings but I haven't read any from the Oz world and it makes me curious. Thanks for the lovely review!

  11. Omg this book sounds sooo interesting and intriguing! Since my arc expired, I'm planning to buy it soon. Before I read it though, I am going to watch The Wizard's of Oz just so I can compare them and see where the author made changes.

  12. Oh, wow, JEANN! YOU HAVE JUST MADE ME EVEN MORE EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK! If that was even possible! I love retelling's and I love dark retelling's even more! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this book – I can't wait to read it! I think it'll have to go onto my June TBR…I don't even care what else is on it at this moment, because your review is great and it's made me so, so excited for this book and I'm going to stop typing now because I'm just blabbering on and making no sense, but thank you so much for the fantastic review!
    Ebony @ Paperbacks & recently posted…Book Review – On the Jellicoe Road by Melina MarchettaMy Profile

  13. I'm so glad you liked this one, I bought it kind of on a whim and all the reviews gave me high expectations although I didn't know much about it. Glad to know the Oz setting is developed well, and I love a twisted setting. Kind of like Wonderland in Splintered. Love originality.
    Alise recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday [37]My Profile

    • That's great that you own a copy, but going in blind is half the fun. I've heard it compared to Splintered a few times now with how dark it is. Can't wait to read Splintered too!

  14. Yes! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one so much Jeann! <3 (I kind of had a feeling you would! 😉 ) I agree…it was so interesting how Paige created her world, and the way she just made it her own was absolutely brilliant. And it was awesome seeing those characters in "switched" positions, right? 😀 Thanks so much for sharing, and, as always, <b>BRILLIANT review! <3 GAH…SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT!
    Zoe @ The Infinite T recently posted…Say What You WillMy Profile

  15. I skimmed your review because I have not read this yet but I actually have another copy of this thanks to a fellow blogger but your rating and epilogue says it all! I think for a debut novel, the author did a fantastic job into creating a different and darker Oz and that's just from the premise alone! Thank you for that info about the blurb at the back, I think it is a bit of false advertising but since I found this out before reading the book, I won't be so pissed about it. I'm really interested in finding out how evil Dorothy has become though! As always, lovely review Jeann 🙂
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  16. Awesome review, Jeann! I am wondering though, since this is an inverse retelling of the Wizard of Oz, is it necessary to read the original first? I thought that maybe the impact of the roles being switched would be more heavy if we have an idea what they were truly like. In any case, I like dark stories, so I am definitely giving this a go. Truly hoping I like it as much as you did!
    Faye D'Social P recently posted…Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah StrohmeyerMy Profile

    • Thank you Faye! I don't think it's necessary to read the original, it still makes for an awesome imaginative YA story. As long as you know the gist of it, it would be good. Can't wait to see what you think, Faye!

  17. I have to admit this one was pretty original. i loved the whole concept of Dorothy Must die and deifnetly think i'll be reading the sequel but i have to admit i wasn't a HUGE fan of this one. I mostly just got the whole "prequel" vibe from this one. Like this one was preparing us for series rather than digging into it from the start.

    Great review Jeann!

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it 🙂
    Lily recently posted…Our Next Read {1}My Profile

    • I adored it Lily and it all finally clicked about Dorothy Must Die too! I totally know what you mean about the prequel vibe, which is kind of why the blurb doesn't really match this book.

  18. Not sure if I'd enjoy the gory details but I was curious about how evil Dorothy had become. Amy seemed to be someone I could connect with and it's lovely to see that the romance didn't take center stage here. I'll probably start reading it when the sequel comes out. Thanks for sharing.
    Henrietta recently posted…Biggest Flirts – Jennifer EcholsMy Profile

  19. I've heard some mixed things about this one, but your review makes it sound so fun and solid, Jeann! I love the sound of Amy's character and the fact that the romance isn't the entire focus of the story, as well…that's HUGE for me! I'll obviously need to read this one now! Great thoughts 🙂

  20. I agree that this was an original retelling. I loved the dark twist on Oz! I think I would have enjoyed it a little more though if I hadn't read the book description immediately beforehand. It made the book feel more like a long introduction to me, and I was hoping for more plot progression. Though I'm definitely curious about the rest of the series. 🙂 Great review, Jeann!
    Sam @ Realm of Ficti recently posted…Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesMy Profile

    • YESSSS MY JOB HERE IS DONE. They have heaps of copies, which is awesome! The only problem is that the hardback is so pretty that you will have a problem with returning it.

  21. Well, I was quite on the fence about this one, but after reading your review I know I need to give this one a chance for sure!

    Thanks for a great review, Jeann! Fantasy + horror and romance as a side dish really sold the book for me! And thanks for the cliffhanger warning!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #42!!My Profile

  22. OMG YOU HAVE JUST MADE ME MORE EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK! I didn't think I could actually get more excited than I already was!

    Thank you for the fantastic review! It makes me wonder what the rest of the series is actually going to be about and how it ends. I shouldn't be thinking of that though, when I haven't even read DMD yet!
    Gina @ Behind the Pa recently posted…Review: The Program by Suzanne YoungMy Profile

  23. I've been seeing this one around A LOT! And like, I never thought that it was a horror. I saw "retelling of Wizard of Oz" and I just assumed it was like a fairytale or something magical. I'm not usually into those so I completely passed it off but now… Like wow! It sounds really really good. I haven't read a good horror that wasn't too scary in a long long time. So maybe this will be the one! Thank you for always clearing up my crazy assumptions LOOOL
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Book Review: The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle MadowMy Profile

  24. I'm still not sure if I want to read this book and it's nothing against your review, it's just that everyone I've seen who has read it has enjoyed the story of Oz beforehand and I've read three different adaptations and the original and just don't like the story at all, so don't know if it'll affect my liking for this book at all. That aside, I think the world sounds fantastic and it's great to have a main character who isn't foolish and makes careless mistakes, as well as the relationship not taking front seat. Great review Jeann! 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #13My Profile

    • Hmmm, I guess if you weren't a fan of the source material you could still enjoy this one because it's just so different. But I admit, if you do like the original it would be a lot better too. Thank you Amanda!

  25. Each character in Dorothy Must Die is vibrantly re-imagined to fit in with the horror theme. -You said

    Man that line sounded awesome! I'm still struggling whether to read the ebook or a buy the physical copy. It's been receiving mixed reviews a lot. HUHU *Cries help me!

  26. I AM SO FREAKISHLY EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK. WOOT! I'm sooo happy I own it now. ^.^ Although I was orignally worried about something about that package deal? I don't really understand it, but there seemed to be a mess about HOW it got published or something? Okay, ignore me. I have no idea how to explain what I'm thinking. >_< BUT ANYWAY. I still want to read it, because I'm such a fan of dark and creepy retellings. Pity I have a pile of ARCs to get to first. Gah. LOVED this review so much!!
    Cait @ Notebook Sist recently posted…Top 10 Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’tMy Profile

    • YAY I am soooo glad you own it, I am going to buy the paperback when it's out, definitely. I must have missed the stuff about the package deal, hmmm. You must make time for this Cait because you loved Splintered, I've heard it compared in the type of story. Plus I get to read your thoughts on it and we can fangirl together <3