Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige | Book ReviewDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-04-01
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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!

Revolutions and uprisings are totally my jam. I love it when oppressed people rise up and overthrow their tyrants. So, it should not shock you at all that I was really excited about Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. This is a debut that not only has a revolutionary element, but melds with another favorite trope of mine, and that is the re-imagining or the retelling. You see, this book takes on The Wizard Of Oz and shows us a darkly twisted Oz where Dorothy is this evil tyrant and the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion are her henchmen. While I totally recommend this book, I have some reservations about it and there were a few bits that I am not in love with overall.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige starts off with this Kansas girl named Amy who is living a rather unhappy life. Amy lives in a trailer park with an addicted mother. She is bullied at school by lol, a pregnant teenager, and so, she gets suspended from school after the pregnant teen tells this lie about Amy beating her up. So, when Amy is home, there is this tornado that sends her, a pet rat named Star, and her trailer to Oz. Amy totally cannot believe she’s in Oz because it’s nothing like the movie. Instead, Oz is dark and depressing and the residents are clearly chafing against the tyranny even though they kind of act like automatons. Amy then finds herself joining up with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to overthrow Dorothy. As an outlander, it seems that Amy is the only one who can take on Dorothy. And so, she learns magic and kind of redefines her whole definition of good and wicked as time goes on. Will Amy accomplish her assassin mission? You’ll have to pick up Dorothy Must Die to find that answer.

Amy, or Salvation Amy as she’s called by her tormentor, took me awhile to warm up to. When we start the book, she’s kind of pathetic. She lets people walk all over her and lets this one girl clearly get the best of her, even though you know, that other girl isn’t exactly going places. When Amy gets to Oz, she’s still kind of annoying because she refuses to listen to the residents, thus causing the death of one awesome character relatively early in the book. Yeah, she’s totally that girl you yell at in horror movies to NOT GO IN THE DARK ROOM. And of course, she never listens. Over time though, Amy gets better and less annoying. She begins to grow and develop confidence. She begins to learn how to fight back and joins this awesome cause. She also has a pretty strong moral compass and is willing to help people and Oz residents who are in trouble, even if it’s not on the agenda of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I also did really like Amy’s smart mouth or her sass even if it had this tendency to get her into trouble. I will say that she is intriguing and does some pretty fantastic things, it just took me awhile to actually care about her and get a feel for her character.

What makes me recommend this book, though, is the world building. Paige does a fine job making the land of Oz an immersive place in Dorothy Must Die. We get some pretty good interaction with the Oz residents. We learn about interesting types of food. We learn about the role magic plays in Oz and omg OZMA. That excites me. We also get a good glimpse of the sociological order of Oz now that Dorothy is in charge and siphoning the magic from the residents and the land. The way the visuals are described paints a detailed picture in my imagination. I thought that this book rocked at making Oz all dark and scary and twisted compared to the movie version. That’s actually really, really awesome.

However, where I hesitate to give a wholehearted recommendation is with the writing style. For some bizarre reason, I just did not LOVE it. It’s because there is a lot of telling instead of showing. Like, a lot of times Amy is like “I did this, I did that, then this thing happened because of that.” The issues in Oz with Dorothy are explained through a whole lot of infodump conversations. It’s not done in a way that feels organic or natural. I kind of felt like this book was dumbed down, in that instead of letting me the reader figure things out by clues and hints and natural events, it’s all told to me in a conversation between Amy and a flying monkey or Amy and a munchkin or Amy and a witch. I just didn’t think the writing was as impacting as it could have been. Also, the book is pretty fast paced, I finished it in about 3 days while I was in the middle of a reading slump. However, after finishing the book I felt a bit disappointed as it’s really just Amy training and learning magic without any big events happening, and by big events, I mean really exciting things like, um, what the title promises us.

Overall, I did enjoy Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige and would certainly recommend it to people looking for a dark retelling of a childhood classic. However, just note that it’s not the second coming or anything. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read and there’s certainly a few things to be aware of and that make me hesitate to fall all over this book with praise.

Have you read Dorothy Must Die? Do you agree or disagree with me? What’s your favorite Oz retelling, they seem to be all the rage these days. Let me know in the comments.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Well this is incredibly disappointing. And a prime example of why I try to avoid book hype (although the hype over this one hasn’t escaped me). This one really sounds awesome and a great twist on the classic, but some of your complaints seem like they would be ones I’d have. Oh well… I haven’t been in a super huge hurry to read this one so it doesn’t look like I need to be!

  2. I just got this book from Vine and am excited to read it, though I’m sure I’ll be yelling at Amy not to go into that dark room by herself (gah! Characters make me so frustrated when they do stupid shizz like that!). Despite the “So you see, Amy” conversations that tell rather than show, I do like the premise of a tyrranical Dorothy. Plus, great cover and title!

  3. Ah, the WHY WOULD YOU RUN UP THE STAIRS?? girl.

    I’m still excited to read this, for the same reasons you were when you first started it, but I’m going to lower my expectations. Info-dumps are the worst, and it sucks that Paige didn’t do more to let her story flow organically. At least Amy shows some growth as a character!

  4. Nice write up! (I just found your site by the way – I love it and am in the process of stalking your reviews. Sorry not sorry.) I’ve been super excited about this book and hope I enjoy it, but I’ll probably be slightly disappointed for the same reasons you mentioned. I can’t help it though…I’m a sheep for all the Oz-related stuff that’s sweeping the nation.

  5. I immediately went out and bought this book (thanks HYPE-MONSTER) the moment it came out. And as excited as I still am to read it, it’s really good to know that there are some recommended reservations before I dive in. I’m assuming that this is a series, yes? There’s really nothing worse than disappointed expectations, especially when it comes to a book that practically everyone is pushing nowadays.

  6. Honestly, I just had a lot of fun reading Dorothy Must Die! It’s not the most stellar read, and I can totally see what you mean about the telling versus showing. But it’s just plain entertaining, especially seeing all the ways Paige twisted the original.