Dorothy Must Die
Harper Collins, 2014 464 pgs
Dorothy Must Die Series #1
Danielle Paige presents her debut novel with a continuation of The Wizard of Oz. Amy Gumm is a teenager living in a trailer park in Kansas with her substance abusing mother. Bullied in school with no guidance at home, life is miserable for Amy. Then, one day, the unthinkable happens. A tornado tears through Kansas, whisking Amy's trailer up and over to the magical land of Oz. Only Oz isn't the fantasy land as seen in the movies. Instead it is an ugly and barren place, filled with scared and hopeless inhabitants. The deplorable conditions of the land have been brought about by none other than everyone's favorite heroine: Dorothy. Dorothy returned to Oz after being transported back to Kansas and has become power-hungry and magic-mad. She has teamed up with Glinda and they work together to strip the land of its magic. All of Oz's inhabitant are slaves to Dorothy and must indulge her every whim. Dorothy's friends, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, have also turned evil and torment the citizens of Oz in accordance with Dorothy's wishes. After bumbling around and inadvertently causing trouble, Amy is arrested and jailed at the Emerald Palace. All looks lost until a wicked witch appears in her cell willing to save her if only she pledges to aid in the cause to assassinate Dorothy. Amy agrees and is magically transported to a secret place where she meets trained fighter, Nox (love interest), and the rest of the gang of rebels. They teach Amy to fight and use magic and brief her in the ways of the land. At last Amy is ready to fully contribute. After an ill-fated battle with the Cowardly Lion, she is disguised and sent to the castle posing as a servant. What follows next is a series of twists, turns, near misses and espionage, finally building to a climatic grand ball, where rebellion, narrow escapes, and assassination attempts all lead the reader straight to the next installment of the series The Wicked will Rise, which was released March, 2015.
Paige does not present merely a re-telling of The Wizard of Oz, but a fully re-worked land, gone foul with the abuse of power and magic. Amy Gumm might be from Kansas, but she could not be more different than the original Dorothy. She's tough, goth, and edgy. Her companion is a rat instead of a cute little dog. But still, she has a good heart and tries to do the right thing, even at great personal peril. Dorothy Must Die is fresh and original. It is not apocalyptic or feature werewolves, zombies, or vampires, but still manages to contain magical and creepy creatures and action set beyond our reality. There are some disturbing and violent bits and may not appeal to sensitive readers thinking they are going to get the sweet, folksie magic of the original. There is something decadent and fun seeing our favorite warm and fuzzy characters from America's most famous story gone bad and turning the world on its head. There is also romance, but it is of a harmless nature, at least in this first installment. Girls will be the target audience, but boys will like it too if given the chance. Meatier than it appears at first glance, a lot of serious topics are hidden in this fantasy book, such as bullying, addiction, abuse of power, loyalty, perception of good verses evil, standing up for what is right, and it would be a great choice for book discussion. Still, Paige never loses sight of the fun and adventure and keeps us guessing and turning pages right up to the end. The book is a little long, but so much happens that I didn't mind. I didn't want it to end, which it doesn't. The adventures continue in the next installment which is conveniently already in print waiting for for me to crack into it.