Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Published By: HarperCollins
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I love perusing the aisles at the local bookstore, checking out all of the new books that have just come in or the older ones that I have not yet had an opportunity to read. As an avid reader, I enjoy every trip to the bookstore, but how often can one get something for nothing at such a locale? Well, just this weekend I discovered that you CAN get something for nothing at the local bookstore. I was offered a 62 page prepublication excerpt of a new novel entitled Dorothy Must Die.
Noting the picture of the blue gingham dress on the cover, I wondered if the Dorothy in question was in fact the Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I wondered what further adventures could be told about Dorothy and her cohorts and worried that this might be a rip off of my beloved Gregory Maguire novels. But as I began to read the excerpt, it was clear that both Dorothy and the land of Oz that Danielle Page has imagined is quite different than anything I have ever read before.
The lead character in Dorothy Must Die is Amy Gumm, a spunky Kansas teenager forced to grow up too soon. Her father abandoned her when she was eight years old. Her mother had a car accident and became addicted to pills a short time after. Knowing she can't rely on the grown-ups around her, Amy has been fending for herself for quite some time. So it should have come as no surprise when Amy's mother decided to leave her behind to attend a tornado party. It should have been no surprise that her mother would not be concerned about the fact that Amy would be alone, with no other company but her mother's pet rat, in a trailer in the middle of a tornado warning.
And yet, her mother's callousness does come as a surprise, as does the fact that the warning wasn't bogus. When the tornado hits, it lifts the trailer right off its mooring, carrying Amy, pet rat and all far away. Even more surprising is the fact that, when Amy comes to, she discovers that she is no longer anywhere she would vaguely recognize.
The individuals she meets tell her she is in Oz, but this is nothing like the land of Oz she remembers from TV. No, this Oz is not all green and sparkly with cute, cherub-like munchkins running around and brightly colored homes scattering the path around the yellow brick road. Though there IS indeed a yellow brick road. If this is Oz, what happened to it?
Amy is about to discover just what has been happening in Oz since the events of the movie she once watched with her mother. Apparently, Dorothy found a way to return to Oz and the sweet little girl she once was is no more. In her place is a magic-stealing, power-hungry individual. Amy is recruited by a band of witches, trained to fight and given a mission: Remove the Tin Woodsman's heart, steal the Scarecrow's brain, take the Lion's courage and then...Dorothy Must Die!
The prepublication excerpt contained the first three chapters of the novel, then jumped to the fourteenth chapter. By then we realize that Amy has discovered a bit more about her surroundings and gotten herself in deep by witches that would have been considered wicked prior to Dorothy's power-grabbing spree. It becomes clear to us that this Oz has become exactly the opposite of the Oz we remember from the movies we saw and books we watched as children. No, this Oz is somewhat decayed like the Oz we know in Maguire's novels, but not due a wicked wizard, war or plain old apathy. Apparently, the Dorothy we knew has become a rather destructive force in Oz and we are about to witness what another of Kansas' girls is capable of doing to stop her.
Apparently, the hardcover edition of this book, published April 1, 2014, is 464 pages long. When you consider that I only read 62 pages of the novel and was completely mesmerized by those 62 pages, you realize that there is either something intriguing about the story or something about the way it is written that kept my eyes glued to the pages. I'd say a little of both. The idea of a Dorothy gone bad was great, but it would take a great writer to pass it off credibly. Though I haven't read the whole book, thus far I can say that Danielle Paige definitely knows how to captivate her audience, creating a main character that we sympathize with and root for. Paige's descriptiveness is just right - enough to imagine the scene in your mind's eye without suffocating you with too much detail. Writing the book in the first person helps us to see inside the main character's mind and her spunkiness makes her both funny and endearing.
What I read of Dorothy Must Die was enough to make me want to read more. If given the opportunity, I would definitely want to read the rest - I want to know what happens to Amy, Dorothy and Oz!