Published: April 1st, 2014
Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1)
By: Danielle Paige
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!
I have certain "comfort" movies/books that I turn to time and time again, to recharge my batteries. The movie version of Wizard of Oz is one of them. I have probably seen it a couple hundred times and could recite/sing it word for word - this doesn't make it sacred property though! I have such a yen for retellings/reimaginings, that I will give almost anything a whirl at least once. So I looked at this as the book version of what the video game, American McGee's "Alice", was to Alice in Wonderland; utterly twisted, bizzare, a feast for the eyes and a topsy-turvy sort of universe. I had my expectations beyond met in one of the ways that mattered most to me as a reader - world building. I loved the fact that Danielle Paige managed to blend the worlds of the book series and the famous film almost seamlessly. In the novella before this, Paige ties together the threads of the book's silver shoes and the film's red ones, and it continues into this one. There are wheelers, princesses born out of lily pads, evil witches, good witches, munchkins, and spies. We get mentions of the Tin Woodsman's secret police, and I'm pretty sure that Tik Tok is part of it - which broke my heart. Jellia Jamb makes an appearance in the palace. Mombi, one of the "evil" witches from the books was in this as well, as the head of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. It's a legion of the witches left in Oz, who are dedicated to killing Dorothy and overthrowing her reign of terror.
The whole book is built around the idea that Dorothy found her way back to Oz, supplanted Princess Ozma and took control of Oz, running it into the ground with her insane thirst for magic and power. The Lion is a ravening beast, the Tin Woodsman is in love with Dorothy and willing to do anything for her in the name of it, and the Scarecrow spends his time creating horrific inventions and "improvements", like crows with human ears and permasmile. This book is bloody, has a scene with the gruesome death of an animal (by order of Dorothy for sadistic reasons), constantly kills off characters and mutilates them. Of course I am in love with this book. It's not the normal formula, and no one is safe from harm! Enter Kansas girl Amy Gumm who has been brought to Oz by a force no one is sure of, who might be able to bring down Dorothy. But first she'll have to train with the Order, and navigate the landmine made of their secrets that could destroy everything and everyone in Oz. There are spies, a mysterious boy, encounters with Ozma (no longer right in the head), mysteries involving the Wizard, battles, and jailbreaks of imprisoned flying monkeys.
Amy Gumm is from a trailer park, where she lives with her Mother who is a bitter alcoholic who ignores her, and her Mom's pet rat Star. She is bullied at school by mean girl Madison (who happens to be pregnant with the school crush's baby), has no friends and is called "Salvation Amy." Being carried off by the tornado doesn't really seem out of place in her shitty life and she is only stunned when she finds out Oz is real. Not to mention, Amy has no idea who to trust, or what to think about all the devastating changes to the place. Not to mention the Order, who want to use her to slay Dorothy with her hidden witch powers. But first they will have to teach Amy to use them and in the meantime, she has to fight an attraction to the mysterious Nox (a young wizard who won't let himself love) who's enlisted to help teach her (among surprising others). I won't say any more than that, other than Amy is kind of a Mary Sue at the beginning of the book. I felt like the characters weren't as deep as they could have been in this book by far, but with all of the world-building I can overlook it. I just need more meat in the next one. And yes, it moves sort of slowly, with a few action scenes and a big burst of it at the end. But I was honestly elated that Paige took her time to build the world, along with several continuing plot threads, instead of rushing through on the pretext of action as so many books do. It's the first in a series, so there's time for action in the next two! Overall, I greatly enjoyed it and it ended with a couple huge plot twists and a major cliffhanger! Looking forward to the next one big time.
VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book was published April 1st, 2014.*