We’re Off to See the Despot: Cassie-la Clicks Her Heels for “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die Danielle PaigeDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date
: April 1, 2014
Genre: Fiction, young adult, horror, fantasy, I’ll get you and your little hyper-intelligent rat too MUAHAHAHAHAHA!
Rating: 4.35 out of 5 stars

Summary: Amy Gunn is just your typical teenager in Kansas, until a tornado takes her to a very transformed Oz that’s slowly being destroyed by a devious Dorothy. Yes, that Oz and that Dorothy. Seems that Dorothy didn’t transition well once returning home to Kansas and came back to Oz a much different person than the sweet as pie heroine we know. Now it’s up to Amy to stop Dorothy’s reign of terror before all of Oz is stripped of its magic. Assuming she has the heart, brain and courage needed to complete the task.

I’m going to be honest, I did not expect to like Dorothy Must Die. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like the book before I read it (the premise is right up my alley), but after prepping myself with the novella No Place Like Oz I just didn’t know what to expect. Mostly because the prequel was focused entirely on the hard to handle, extremely annoying Dorothy, who is tortured after wishing herself back home to the extremely dull Kansas. As a result, she returns to Oz where the magic of the realm slowly twists her and her Yellow Brick Road trio to the point where they are nothing like the loveable characters from the public domain books that we remember.

Thankfully, Dorothy Must Die was a completely different experience from No Place Like Oz, possibly because of a change in point of view from Dorothy (think worse than Veruca Salt demanding a golden goose) to the much more likeable and palatable Amy Gumm, who is most likely named after Frances Gumm, Judy Garland’s birth name. Amy has your typical Mary Sue-esque back story, she comes from a damaged home and is looking for something different when she is conveniently sent to another world by those pesky Kansas tornados, but with the added bonus of metaphors to make it slightly less predictable.

When she arrives in Oz, she meets various members of the revolution known as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, because every dystopia needs a rebellion. The group of witches, made up of Gert, Nox, Mombi and Glamora have one mission: train Amy to kill Dorothy and save Oz.

If you’re interested in turning the book into a drinking game, I highly recommend drinking when someone says the title of the book or makes a pun about being a Wicked Witch. For example, the “get Witch quick scheme” or “no rest for the Wicked.”

While the Dorothy from No Place Like Oz abuses her suddenly magical powers, kills her loved ones and is almost unbearable to read about, the Dorothy we see in the novel is a lot more palatable. Sure she has a tendency to dress in a ridiculous mockery of her once innocent gingham dress and ruby slipper combo, but she’s also so delightfully evil and so terrible that you can’t help but love to read about her. Even if she’s wearing a fishtail latex outfit with six-inch ruby slipper heels and all the cleavage. Yes, she’s villainous, but you will love to hate her. And can you blame her? She was ripped from this spectacular magical place and sent back to boring old Kansas, it’s bound to mess with you.

See also the wonderful novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which is about what happens to girls who are ripped from their fantastical lives and back into reality.

Dorothy is also incredibly messed up by the magic in her ruby slippers, which she has become addicted to to the point where she is destroying all of Oz’s natural resources. In order to gain enough magic to keep up her new lifestyle, Dorothy has her minions mining magic, or rather stealing magic from the land for Dorothy’s use. Unfortunately, by taking the magic they are also destroying Oz’s natural resources. This is used as both a metaphor for environmental issues and likens Dorothy to a drug addict.

For this reason, Amy compares Dorothy to the mother she left behind in Kansas, who was more concerned about getting high than she was about the safety of her own daughter. So much so that her only child was sucked into another dimension. Land? World? Reality? Universe?

Dorothy’s friends have also been corrupted. The Tin Woodman, who is now pathetically in love with Dorothy, has added dangerous weapons to his tin body to help him take down rebels. The so-called Grand Inquisitor of the Emerald Police and commander of the Tin Soldiers is helped along by the super brainy Scarecrow, who has become a Dr. Frankenstein-type, performing experiments to create soldiers by making them monstrous human-esque creatures who are part people and part machine. And then there’s the Lion, who is in control of all the animals of the forest (think Aquaman but blood-thirsty) and who has a nasty habit of eating people. Eating their fear that is. And their body parts.

Ozma (the true ruler of Oz) is also not doing so well at the hands of Dorothy. We don’t get to see too much of her as she’s basically insane now, but I loved the little glimpses we do get.

And no worries fans of those flying monkeys, they play a prominent role in Oz, with half cutting off their wings to escape from Dorothy’s rule and other half serving as slaves who bring Dorothy from place to place for her magic mining. For example, Ollie, whose entire family has been taken by Dorothy while he is tied to a post “for the crime of sass.” Something tells me I would not last long in this new Oz.

It’s not all about the characters either, Paige also gives us some great world building. Some fun new additions to the original Oz tales (besides the fact that Oz is now more like a dreary post-apocalyptic wasteland) are intriguing products like PermaSmile, a goo that forces your mouth into a smile. Citizens generally use PermaSmile around Dorothy as a precaution. After all, no one wants to break her Happiness Decree, which tells citizens that they must be happy under penalty of death. Remember that “Twilight Zone” episode with the little boy who can read minds and sends people who displease him to the cornfield? It’s basically like that, but instead of a mysterious cornfield you’re murdered and turned into a weird monster by the super creepy and lecherous Scarecrow.

The action-packed series will continue in the next Dorothy Must Die novel, which is expected to be out in 2015: Dorothy Must Die … Harder. Just kidding, that’s not the real title. But it should be.

Dorothy Must Die ARC

THE GOOD:
-Nothing better than giving a classic story a dark and tragic twist
-Dorothy is so evil that you love to hate her
-Ozma is so tragic you want to hug her
-Great world building, especially within the Emerald City and the outlying lands
-You never know who to trust, which makes the story way less predictable

THE BAD:
-Excessive cursing has a tendency to pull you out of the novel
-The goth munchkin was a tad much, although her moving tattoos a la The Illustrated Man were great

Described as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz meets Kill Bill, Dorothy Must Die will continue with some more novellas, two more books (it’s supposedly a trilogy) and even a rumored CW series. Although there is no other information on that besides a studio in talks to turn the book series into a television show. On the plus side, it has to be better than that “Supernatural” episode that shall not be named.

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8 thoughts on “We’re Off to See the Despot: Cassie-la Clicks Her Heels for “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige

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