Another Fairy Tale Rework that Didn’t Quite Work

Dorothy Must Die

Every time I walked into a bookstore, I saw Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige just sitting on the shelf, and every time I didn’t get it. This time, however, the allure of its cover and striking title persuaded me to grab it. After reading it, however, I wish I hadn’t.

It’s not a terrible concept: after returning to Oz after her famous first adventure, Dorothy becomes addicted to magic and a tyrant ruling over the land. Amy Gumm, another Kansan who was swept up by a tornado and brought to Oz, is recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to kill the despot and return Oz to glorious land it once was.

Cool right? Not so much.

This novel strives to dive deep into important topics and tell some important lessons, but they fall flat. Amy’s strained relationship with her mother is a constant theme, but never really changes and falls flat (and isn’t helped by the fact that Amy is in Oz and her mother is in the “Other Place” with no contact between the two). Her mother’s addiction to pills and Dorothy’s addiction to magic is a nice parallel, but it too falls flat. The love triangle between the broody, dark trainer Nox and the mysterious, pops-up-when-you-least-expect-it-and-doesn’t-really-contribute-to-the-plot-like-at-all Pete are two eligible suitors for Amy, but the relationships fall flat. And the constant questioning of identity by Amy, (“Who am I?” “I don’t know, and I probably won’t give you an answer anytime soon, reader.”) a theme in many YA books, also—you guessed it—falls flat.

The rules of everything don’t really work, either. Magic is loosely defined as energy that wants to change into something else, but then the witches and Amy go on to “cast spells” and “create charms” without really delving into the process. They just “feel” it and “picture it in their minds” and it happens. Magic, in this story, becomes just a bad deus ex machina.

Dorothy Must Die spends more time in Amy’s head than in any of the action, when there is action to spend time in anyway. She basically is training the whole time and asking the Order what the plan is without receiving an answer and also sleeping a lot—a lot a lot—and it’s all pretty dull. The story picks up when she finally ends training and is sent out on her mission—also without really knowing what the plan is—but then gives us an ending that should have been the starting point in the first place.

I really wanted to like this book. The Land of Oz! Wicked witches doing Good! An evil Dorothy! But unfortunately, I didn’t like it. The execution of the idea didn’t pan out, and, in addition to the previous fairytale rework I reviewed (remember The Reflections of Queen Snow White?), this has just turned me off from the genre as a whole, which is sad, because I’m a fan of books that rework a familiar story/idea. I would not recommend this book (and I certainly am not going to read its sequel).

That said, what are your suggestions for fairytale reworks? Any good books you can think of? I’m curious.

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