Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Book Cover

I’ve talked about in the past how much of a sucker I am for classic retellings. So when I saw this for $1 at my local book thrift store, I had to pick it up. I mean, it’s a dark retelling of The Wizard of Oz, which I grew up with in both book and movie form. And, for the most part, I enjoyed this book.

Release: 2014

Page Count: 452

Format: Hardback

Synopsis: Amy Gumm grew up in Kansas in a grimy trailer park with an alcoholic mother. Her life has never been easy, bullied by kids. She grew up hearing stories of Dorothy and Oz. You know, fictional stories. That is, until Amy literally gets blown up into the sky in a tornado with her mother’s pet rat and gets deposited in Oz. But this Oz is nothing like the one in the children’s book. Dorothy has seized power, enslaving monkeys, munchkins, and all the rest of Oz. Amy is recruited into the Order, a resistance with the goal of taking down Dorothy. And Amy is given a mission: kill Dorothy.

Non-Spoiler Review

I really enjoyed this book. There are definitely weaknesses to it and I left the book with a lot of questions for the sequel, but it doesn’t fall into as many tropes as many YA and it really kept me guessing as to where the plot would go next. One of my pet peeves about YA books is that the protagonists rarely feel like they are actually pushing the narrative forward, and instead simply doing what other people tell them to do. And despite Amy being in situations throughout the book where she was told what to do, she would constantly break away and make her own decisions (even if it was to the determent of others). Her motivations were always to help people, even if in the long run she actually hurt others. Because of that, I couldn’t help but really like Amy as a person. Being a big fan of the book series, I also appreciated the level of detail taken to stay with the original source material while also tipping almost everything onto its head. While it did start out a bit predictable at first (which is my only criticism), for the most part this is a solid and enjoyable dark retelling of Baum’s classic world.

Originally I considered doing a spoiler review for this book as well, but because I did enjoy it so much, I want to keep most of the spoilers out of this review. However, I will mention one that seems to have been spoiled in most synopsis of this book anyway. That is, in order to kill Dorothy, Amy must first destroy the heart of the Tin Man, the brain of the Scarecrow, and the courage of the lion. An interesting opposite to the original Oz tale. I am interested to see as the series continues why Dorothy became evil, as well as her three main friends. A lot of questions were not answered in this book, some of which I won’t mention because they were give away spoilers. And I’m hoping the next books answer them all.

I am also interested in the Order, the resistance fighting to kill Dorothy. The Order is led by three witches: Mombi, Gert, and Glamora (who is the twin sister of the famous Glinda). What is interesting is that two out of three of these witches (not Gert) are wicked witches. Mombi is the Wicked Witch of the North. An interesting commentary discussed in the book is that when the good becomes evil, the wicked does not seem as bad. Even if the Order is not fully good itself, still willing to kill numerous people to destroy Dorothy. It’s just an interesting commentary on good and evil. Glinda and Dorothy appear to be good on the outside, but they are cruel and murderous to keep their power. While Mombi and Glamora appear to be evil, and yet they are mostly good.

I’m also curious to see the romance develop as the story continues. When Amy is trained by the Order in preparation to kill Dorothy, a young man named Nox teaches her how to fight and use magic. He was orphaned by Dorothy’s grab for power many years before, and was raised as a killing machine for the Order. And yet he grows to care for Amy as she does him.

Speaking of magic, the world is incredibly interesting in this book, expanding on Baum’s world. Magic is described as being in everything in Oz and everyone can harness it if they are trained. Similarly, there are other quirks in the world which were very interesting. Some of the flying monkeys cut off there wings so they would not have to serve Dorothy. Ozma is still the true ruler of Oz, but her mind was messed with and now she just aimlessly walks around the castle while Dorothy truly rules. There is this thing called a PermaSmile, this goop that when applied to your lips makes you look as if you’re unnaturally smiling….creepy. Basically, this world takes the original world and makes it feel new and interesting.

This is the first book of a four book series. I’m already currently halfway done with the second book. I gave this first book 4 out of 5 stars and I truly enjoyed it, but the second one isn’t holding my attention as easily. I’m hoping to finish the entire series this month and then I’ll give you my final thoughts in my monthly wrap-up.

Have you heard of this book? Does it look interesting to you? Have you read any other good Wizard of Oz retellings? Also, you may have noticed I redid my blog design a bit. How does it look? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, thank you so much for reading, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

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