Sixteen-year-old Amy Gumm wants out of her hometown, Flat Hill, Kansas. She is tired of being, “Salvation Amy,” a perpetual target for Madison Pendleton and her clique of mean girls. She is tired of living in a rundown trailer with her drug-addicted mom. She is tired of her monochromatic existence. Amy wants to live her life in full, glorious Technicolor.
In a moment that is one part typical Kansas weather and one part total cliché, a tornado snatches Amy’s trailer and deposits it precariously on the edge of a cliff in a strange land. A good-looking stranger pulls her from the wreckage just in time, and Amy watches as her home tumbles over the edge into the void below. A quick look around confirms Amy’s suspicion – she is definitely not in Kansas anymore.
With her pet rat, Star, tucked into the pocket of her hoodie, Amy sets out to follow the crumbling yellow brick road to the Emerald City, where she hopes to find a witch to send her home. As she crosses the countryside, Amy sees a version of Oz that bears no resemblance to the cheerful, sunny place imagined by MGM studios. The problem, it seems, is Dorothy.
Dorothy’s story did not end when she clicked her heels together three times and said, “there’s no place like home.” She somehow found her way back to Oz, seized power from Ozma, and began gathering the magic of Oz for her own use. Dorothy is mad with power and addicted to magic. She has reduced Oz to a twisted shadow of its former splendor.
The remaining witches of Oz formed the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to combat Dorothy and her minions, Glinda, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. The order has one mission – Dorothy must die. They see Amy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas via tornado as a sign that she is the one to complete the task and set Oz free.
The witches train Amy in magic and combat. They teach her to blend into Emerald City society and secure her a position in the palace. Undercover, Amy is to learn all she can about Dorothy’s habits and schedule, and to await further instructions from the order.
Life in the palace is much more mundane and complicated than Amy expected. Her hours pass in a haze of scrubbing floors, dusting and subterfuge. As the days go by, Amy comes to understand that the Order is right – Dorothy must die, and she might just be the right person for the job.
First-time author Danielle Paige has penned a dark, gripping spin on a beloved children’s story. Paige’s Oz is vividly imagined, and just familiar enough to help readers fully grasp the wrongness of the place.
This book is a page-turner, and Amy is a genuinely likeable heroine. Paige expertly juxtaposes the ridiculous and the horrible, infusing the story with a little dark humor that I really enjoyed.
Dorothy Must Die ends with a whopping cliffhanger, and I cannot believe I have to wait until March to see what happens next!
Heather Holley-Hall is Alamance County Public Libraries’ Head of Branch Services. She may be reached at 336-570-6730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.