Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die
Danielle Paige

Released April 1, 2014
464 pages
YA / Fantasy / Twisted Classic Stories

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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, and I've been given a mission:


The Tin Woodman's heart,


The Scarecrow's brain,


The Lion's courage,

And then—


I can only imagine the look I had on my face as I zipped through Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die. It would have been something between “I’m not sure I like this.” and “What am I even reading?” It turned out to be one of those books that, while I rated it four stars after reading it, it lost some of its luster as time passed. Now that I’m a few weeks away from having read it and my book club has had their monthly discussion about it, I’m kind of indifferent to the whole thing. Let’s see if we can try to figure out why.

Dorothy Must Die is a continuation of The Wizard of Oz in a way. It follows Amy Gumm, a down on her luck girl from Kansas, whose life can’t get any worse. Then she finds herself caught in a tornado and ends up in a desolated Oz, a place where magic is being mined for the dictator-ish Dorothy. See, Dorothy returned to Oz and went a little wrong in the head. Now she wears slutty versions of blue gingham dresses and tortures anyone that remotely gets on her bad side. Meanwhile a group of witches are trying to rid Oz of Dorothy for the good of the people. Amy gets roped into this battle and finds herself in some precarious situations after given the task of killing Dorothy.

Some could consider what lies ahead to be some vague spoilers. You’ve been warned.

While reading this book, I was pulled in by the action sequences, but put off by the plotting of the characters. Amy is used as a pawn the entire book by various people, never really thinking for herself or making her own decisions. When she does make a decision, it usually has a horrible outcome because her compatriots refuse to tell what’s going on or what they’re planning. Then they start yelling at her for messing up the plans they never told her about. Everyone is a little too cagey, rarely giving straight answers, so that Dorothy follows their instructions blindly is a little alarming.

But if you don’t think too much or analyze things, Dorothy Must Die is a fun romp through a warped version of a familiar world. If you have more familiarity with the actual sequels to The Wizard of Oz, a few of the reveals won’t be that shocking. The ending is moderately satisfying as Amy finishes a goal she didn’t realize she had in the first place, while setting up the rest of the series.

By the end, I wasn’t clamoring for the next book in the series, but I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time in Paige’s world. Her writing is fast paced, carrying me along quickly enough that I couldn’t get too hung up on the issues that bother me now that I’ve had some time to think about this book. Amy has low self-esteem and makes bad choices, but she eventually rises to the occasion when it matters. It was a fun read, but I’m not sure I’m going to actively search out the rest of the series whenever it comes out.


Have you read Dorothy Must Die? What did you think of it? If you haven’t, is it on your TBR pile?