Tuesday 2 September 2014


Book review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

My edition: Paperback, published on 3 July 2014 by HarperCollins, 452 pages.

Description: 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.


How brilliant does this cover look with that title? Without even reading the blurb, I'm sure everyone knows who Dorothy is and will be very interested in finding out why the sweet little pigtailed girl we've all grown up with should die. As I'm both a big fan of classic children's stories (The Wizard of Oz is one of my all-time favourites) and contemporary retelllings of fairytales, I was instantly intrigued by this novel and extremely excited to get my eager hands on a copy.

This time around, just like in the much more adult Wicked series by Gregory Maguire, the characters we think are the good guys are actually the wicked ones and vice versa. We discover this new Oz through the eyes of teenager Amy Gunn. Amy lives in a trailer park in Kansas with a mother who doesn't seem to love her. Having been forced to take care of herself from when she was just a little girl, she's very independent but also lonely. She doesn't have any friends in high school and so when she gets swept away by a tornado and lands in the strange land of Oz, just like Dorothy did so many years earlier, she's able to manage pretty well on her own at first.

But of course a story of just Amy wandering about and discovering the Oz that isn't quite what she thought it was from the stories she grew up with, just like you and me, doesn't make for much of a novel and she's soon recruited by a group of people who tell her that Dorothy is now in charge of Oz and that this is definitely not a good thing. Glinda the Good is in fact bad and Dorothy's henchmen are led by the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. But rather than the sweet and fussy creatures we know them as they're sinister murderers, the Tin Man in particular could've walked straight out of a very dark steampunk novel.

I thought that Dorothy Must Die had a fantastic start. Amy's bleak life in Kansas was evident from the beginning and within the first few pages I felt sorry for this girl and started to root for her. And when she ended up in the magical realm of Oz I was in awe of author Danielle Paige's world-building as she kept some elements of the wonderful world I already knew, but infused them with plenty original ideas of her own. The way she described some of the characters, the Tin Man and Scarecrow in particular, was greatly disturbing though, far more than I expected for a YA take on a classic children's story.

While the novel was promising at first, I found it was slow in the middle when Amy got distracted by the typical bad boy love interest and preparing for a big fight that ended up not even taking place in the first novel because of its abrupt finish. This was a real shame as I'm not a fan of a series in which the first novel provides little answers and this book in particular had such a blatant open ending that I was really frustrated that I had ploughed through a hefty 452 pages and now am forced to pick up the next installment as well, which won't be out for many more months.

Perhaps if the middle part of the story would've been drastically trimmed down to be more action driven, rather than succumb to YA stereotypes, it could've all been told within a single novel (or at least provide some answers) and I would've enjoyed it more in its entirety, rather than just the fantastic premise, promising start and flurry of excitement towards the end.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Twitter: @daniellempaige

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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