Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

April 24, 2014 Reviews 17 ★★★★

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die # 1
Published by HarperCollins on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 452
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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!

When you hear the title, Dorothy Must Die, and you picture pretty Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz with her cute pigtails and sweet gingham dress, you know you are in for a twisted ride.  In Dorothy Must Die, the characters and the world we know and love are flipped upside down and turned inside out.  This Dorothy is a power-hungry, murderous psychopath. She does still have the cute pigtails and the gingham dress, though.  The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, and even Toto bear little resemblance to their more famous counterparts.  Let’s just say that you would not want to cross their paths in Kansas, in Oz, or anywhere.

Amy Gumm is the “new” Dorothy.  She’s a poor girl from Kansas, friendless, picked on, and burdened with a mess of a mother.  She’s alone in her trailer when a tornado strikes, and she finds herself transported to Oz.  Amy knows the story, and she recognizes the yellow brick road, the Munchkins, and the flying monkeys.  But something seems…off.  This Oz is completely devoid of the brightness and wondrous magic of the other Oz.  Instead, Amy immediately finds her life threatened, and she’s forced to decide if she should trust the witches she identifies as “wicked.”  There are no easy choices here, and the wrong one will likely result in Amy’s death.

I loved Amy’s introduction to Oz and her gradual realizations of the horrors in this world. Dorothy is a gleeful sadist, and her henchmen – the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion – are every bit as terrifying.  They are clearly the bad guys, but most of the other characters are difficult to pin down.  There are those who want to overthrow Dorothy, but are their motivations purely selfless?  It’s critical that Amy’s instincts are on point, but we don’t know whom she should trust any more than she does.

The only weak part in the story was when Amy begins training to take on Dorothy.  Up until that point, I was having so much fun exploring all the horrors of Oz, and I was disappointed when the plot slowed down.  But when Amy is finally sent on her cloak and dagger mission, everything kicks back into high gear.

Don’t get too comfortable while reading this story, because Danielle Paige has lots of tricks up her sleeve.  Just as I was starting to enjoy one character  – one who I assumed would play a major role in the story – the character is melted into a gooey pile of blood and skin and bones.  Did I mention Dorothy Must Die is dark?  And bloody?  And violent?  And seriously imaginative?  I’m already hooked on this twisted world.


17 Responses to “Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige”

    • Stephanie

      I don’t remember hearing that it was intended to be a stand-alone, but the ending is definitely wide open. Hope you read it soon!

  1. Pili

    Well, I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed it so much despite the pacing hiccup in there! I’ll definitely be giving this one a chance, since it seems like it’s one of those dividing books that you have to check for yourself… I love creepy and disturbing when retellings happen!
    Great review, Steph!

    • Stephanie

      This definitely fits the bill for dark and disturbing. Hope you enjoy it, Pili!

    • Stephanie

      An evil Dorothy is such a clever idea. I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

  2. Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog)

    I’m reading this right now and I’m right in the middle of the training stuff…. and BLAH!! I’m getting bored. I also don’t really love the writing in this book. But before the training stuff I was okay with the book. I’m going push through it though and see if it gets better (sounds like it will!!)
    Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog) recently posted…Black Box by Julie SchumacherMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I hope that you’ll also find that it picks up after the training. Fortunately, that section is not too long.

  3. Joy (Joyousreads)

    Here’s my question: If I read this book, and end up enjoying it, does this “packaged” book deserve a high rating? 🙂

    Anyway, I’m really curious about this seemingly deranged retelling of Wiz of Oz. I’m glad it is as great as most have claimed.

  4. Stephanie

    Stupid question – does “packaged” mean it’s part of a book/movie deal?

    I hope you love it, Joy!

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