Dorothy Must Die Series Review

Author: Danielle Paige is the authoress of the Dorothy Must Die series, as well as part of the award writing team behind the Netflix series ‘Hemlock Grove’.

Rating: Dorothy Must Die #1 – ****

             The Wicked With Rise #2 - ***

              Dorothy Must Dies Stories (Prequel Novellas 1-3) - TBC


Dorothy Must Die:
Like most of my books I have had Dorothy Must Die on my bookcase for quite a while, and on a whim recently I picked it up.

At first I was really disappointed with the writing of the book. The first two chapters are set in modern Kansas and there were so many under-written stereotypes: The pregnant prom queen, the drunk-slutty mother, the trailer-trash daughter etc. The writing was basic and slow and I never really got a concise picture of what Kansas-life was like for the main character Amy Gunn.

Then the story transfer to Oz.

Oz was very well-written. Paige uses all of the characters from the original books by L Frank Baum, referencing even the smallest of characters and all of the places on the Oz map. It is really lovely.

I found the characters fascinating – Indigo, Ollie, Mombi, Gert…they border from Goth Munchkins to Wicked Witches who aren’t so wicked.

Amy Gunn takes over the role of Dorothy within the books. Arriving in Kansas by tornado and having to work out who she is and what she wants most of – but the main difference is that she has to become Wicked to destroy Dorothy, who, in the last 100 years, has become the most evil queen that Oz has ever known.

The story’s weakness is its pacing. It lingers to long in one place whilst being incredibly too short in others. Also, Paige reminds me of George R.R. Martin when it comes to characters – none are indispensable. You never know who’s going to die next. And pretty much as soon as you come to find a character interesting or think that they might hold the key to the next part of the story: they’re dead.

All in all this book is really interesting re-telling and is a fun read! By the end of the book I was gripped! I finished Dorothy Must Die during the first half of a train journey and was so annoyed at myself for not getting the sequel to it, in preparation to move on from the cliff-hanger at the end of the first book.

The Wicked Will Rise:
The first thing I noticed about this book was how much smaller it was to Dorothy Must Die. The first book was 452 pages whereas the sequel is only 293 pages. I don’t know about you, but to me a sequel is normally longer or at least a similar length. Because of the shortness of the book, in comparison to the first, it is a fairly quick read. As such I think was disappointed, as I didn’t get engrossed as much as I did the first.

Also, once again, there was a problem with pacing! Something massive happens in the first fifty pages and then the pace slips.  More big things happen, suddenly and without warning, yet they’re underwritten and so finish too quickly and mostly don’t give us the feelings that they should. It’s very odd.

The story, however, is nonetheless still gripping. Paige’s characters are definitely the saving grace of these books, I just love them! In this book we’re introduced to: the flying monkey queen with attitude, Polychrome, who’s the daughter of the rainbow and several other eccentric characters.

All the build-up of the major ‘evil’ characters in the first book is basically forgotten during this novel and I think the character of Dorothy becomes weaker over the course of this book. In the first she is a majorly evil character with a vindictive, jealous and abusive persona, whereas in the sequel she becomes a bit like a feeble follower – to who I won’t say.

That brings me on nicely to the Novellas that Paige has also published.

Dorothy Must Die Stories:
This collection holds three short stories called: ‘No Place Like Oz’, ‘The Witch Must Burn’ and ‘The Wizard Returns’.

The first story revolves around Dorothy, before she returned to Oz, when she’s 16 years old and living back in Kansas. Like Amy Gunn her life has taken a turn for the worst and she is really unhappy. Then, after her disastrous 16th birthday party, magical red shoes appear and she is able to send herself, and her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, too Oz.
This story shows the growth of Dorothy from the happy-go-lucky Kansas girl in the original series, into the evil queen of Paige’s sequels which is really interesting, and also explains why she is also such a push-over in The Wicked Will Rise. However, if I hadn’t have read this prequel then the story in The Wicked Will Rise would not have made sense.

I’m still working my way through the prequels: they’re interesting but not amazing. Like most prequel novellas you’re merely getting a look into what happened before the real story begins.

Overall I would recommend this series to people who enjoy re-telling’s and YA fantasy. I have enjoyed it, particularly the first book. But the series does have its weakness and the main one is just pacing. But that’s not the end of the world, it’s just odd.

The final book in the series: The Yellow Brick War, is being published by HarperCollins on the 15 March 2016 (dates vary according to country) – I will be purchasing it straight away – and, I’m happy to say, it is 432 pages! And introduces a very important character…think green ;)

Thanks for reading my review, and please do check out Dorothy Must Die and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!

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