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Review: Dorothy Must Die (Paige)

AUTHOR: Danielle Paige
SERIES: Dorothy Must Die, book 1
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062280671
PAGES: 464
SOURCE: purchased e-book
GENRE: fantasy, spin-off, adventure

SUMMARY: A tornado sweeps 17-year old Amy Gumm from Kansas into Oz, where she is recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicket to kill Dorothy.

REVIEW: I have always loved fairy tale spin-offs, so I was very excited to finally read Dorothy Must Die.

Though I loved this book, I can see some readers being turned off by the idea that Dorothy, the Scarecrow, The Tin Woodsman, and The Lion are the antagonists in Dorothy Must Die. As the title suggests, Amy’s assignment from her Wicked Witch mentors is to kill Dorothy, something Amy struggles with throughout the entire story. Though Dorothy and her friends are really and truly horrible in this story, there will be readers who do not want to see the beloved heroes in The Wizard of Oz turn into murderous despots in this story.

But for me, I loved seeing this darker side to Dorothy, et. al. Oz is a beautiful but dangerous place full of darkness and power and magic. It makes sense to me that an ordinary Kansas girl without magic of her own might crave the magic that Oz offers. It makes sense that the ruby slippers (which should have been silver as in the original and on the front cover) would corrupt a simple farm girl with their taste of magic and power.

As far as character development, I liked Amy’s spunk and toughness. I liked that she questions the motives of all those around her and that she wants things to be just and fair. I love that though she may be afraid, she doesn’t let it stop her from doing what she sees as the right thing. And I love that the right thing isn’t always so clear-cut.

I would have liked to see the relationship between Amy and Nox better developed–we really know very little about Nox and what makes him tick. It’s not really insta-love, but their relationship came a bit suddenly for my tastes.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It’s creative and fun, but readers will have to let go of previous characterizations of Dorothy and her friends in order to fully enjoy the story.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I had heard this wasn’t appropriate for middle school readers, but I think it’s just fine. See content notes below for details. With the students’ familiarity with Oz and my own enthusiasm for this book, Dorothy Must Die will be VERY easy to book talk in my library.

READALIKES: Splintered (Howard); Wicked (Maguire); The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Baum)


  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: medium–3 F-bombs, multiple sh**, multiple ass, multiple damns
  • Sexuality: mild-medium–Dorothy is sexualized (cleavage, clingy dress, curvy); some kissing; teen pregnancy
  • Violence: high–creepy medical experiments, girl melted by acidic bubbles, goal of story is to murder Dorothy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium–Amy’s mother is a junkie; Dorothy gets drunk at a party

One Comment

  • Dorothy Must Die is defiantly a great read! And will become one of your favorite reads by the minute you start reading.The novel is filled with thrill seekers and adventure that will find you wanting to keep turning the pages. The novel can relate with each reader in their own personal way, through the characters and plot. The book can be read by any age group with a medium maturity level- and is a fun read for all.


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