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The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “Ding Dong – Dorothy is Dead. I watched as the Emerald Palace crumbled to the grouns, burying Dorothy, the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone, under the rubble. And now that the rightful ruler, Ozma, has been restored to the throne…Oz is finally free.

My name is Amy Gumm. You might remember me as the other girl from Kansas. When a tornado whisked me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must Die. But it turns out girls from Kansas are harder to kill than we look. Now the Road of Yellow Brick is leading me away from Oz to the dark world of Ev, where I have a new, powerful enemy to deal with: The Nome King. And – surprise – he has a gingham-clad bride. With my magical shoes and a shrinking group of allies, I have one final chance to fulfill my mission, and save not only what’s left of Oz, but Kansas, too. As the line between Good and Wicked blurs even further, I have to find a way to get rid of Dorothy once and for all – without turning into a monster myself.”

REVIEW: Although I have always loved the premise of this series, the books have been a little bit up and down for me, often seeming rushed and a little cliche. Yet, it is a credit to them that I have always been hooked and wanted to know what happens next, even if I have found flaws in the book. ‘The End of Oz’ is the final book in the ‘Dorothy Must Die’ series and picks up right where the previous book, ‘Yellow Brick War’, left off. At this stage in the story, Dorothy is believed dead, Ozma is the ruler of Oz and Amy was trying to start over at home with her mother in Kansas. But with the arrival of the Nome King, everything turned upside down, and Amy is now back in Oz with her high school enemy Madison and love interest Nox. As the yellow brick road leads them into Ev, they discover that not only is Dorothy alive, she is engaged to marry the Nome King. Having the perspective of Dorothy in this novel is interesting, and the reader ends up finding her strangely likeable; doubtless, she is evil, but she shows some compassion, and is highly intelligent. We are, of course, still rooting for Amy, particularly as the relationship between Amy and Nox begins to blossom. As I have mentioned in reviews of the previous books, the developing relationship between Amy and Nox is probably my favourite part of the series, due to the fact that it has not been rushed and has been slowly built upon throughout the books, making it more believeable. I especially loved it in this book, when the two finally admit their feelings for one another. As the race to kill Dorothy becomes more and more urgent, the group face ever more threats, and the introduction of the character of Lanadel as their ally adds to the enjoyment of the novel. I don’t want to give away too much, as I really enjoyed the ending and felt it was a fitting way to end the series – though a suggestive cliffhanger hints that it may not actually be the end after all. Although once again, I felt that the story was rushed in places, I really enjoyed it and felt that it provided the perfect ending to the series.

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Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige

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RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “Once upon a time, there was a girl from Kansas named Dorothy. You might know her as the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone. She ended up in Oz, where she became friends with the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. But the temptation of magic was too much for her. She let it change her. Her friends became twisted versions of their former selves. The magical land of Oz is now a dark and menacing place. My name is Amy Gumm. Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because I got swept away on one too. I also landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good, and the Wicked Witches clued me in to my true calling: Assasin. The only way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz – and Kansas – is to kill her. And I’m the only one who can do it. But I failed. Others died for my mistakes. Because of me, the portal between the worlds has been opened and Kansas and Oz are both in danger. And if I don’t find a way to close it? Dorothy will make sure I never get to go home again.”

REVIEW: I was very excited to read what I thought would be the final installment in the Dorothy Must Die series, which I always assumed was a trilogy; after reaching the end of the book, however, I am now even more excited to say that I am pretty much certain that I was wrong, and another book in the series will, hopefully, soon emerge – or at least I hope so, because I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was left desperate for more when I finished reading the final page. After being swept into a portal, Amy must resume her quest to finish Dorothy from Kansas, a place she finds very different to the home she remembers. The drastic change in her once alcoholic mother is heartwarming for the reader as the two are reunited, as is her growing friendship with once-nemesis Madison Pendleton and her blossoming romance with the witch Nox; yet, Amy still has a job to do. With both help and threats from a new enemy, the Nome King, Amy and the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked find Dorothy’s shoes in Kansas and are sucked back into the land of Oz, destined to find Dorothy and put an end to her reign of terror by killing her, once and for all. I can’t reveal much of what happens upon their return to Oz, for fear of giving too much away; but I feel that this book really connected more to the atmosphere of the first novel in the series, being gripping, shocking and easy to read – I had found the middle book slightly less so, although I still enjoyed it. Amy’s character has also greatly developed by this point and her relationship with Nox provides some relief for the reader from the tense and graphic battle scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if – as I suspect – there is to be another installment, then I can’t wait to read it.

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The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

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RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas. After a tornado swept through my trailer park, I ended up in Oz. But it wasn’t like the Oz I knew from books and movies. Dorothy had returned, and she was stealing magic from the land. The Wizard was back. Glinda could no longer be called the Good Witch. And the Wicked Witches who were left? They’d joined forces as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and they wanted to recruit me. My mission? Kill Dorothy. Except my job as an assassin didn’t work out as planned. Dorothy is still alive. The Order has vanished. And the home I couldn’t wait to leave behind might be in danger. But in a place where the line between good and evil shifts with a strong gust of wind…who am I supposed to trust? And who is actually Wicked?”

REVIEW: This second installment of the ‘Dorothy Must Die’ series picks up immediately after the previous novel left off, with Amy and her monkey friends Ollie and Maud fleeing to seek safety with the rest of the flying monkeys. Amy has failed her orders to kill Dorothy, who has escaped along with Glinda, and has also found herself without a clue of how to find the rest of the Order. With the demented Ozma/Pete in tow, Amy and her friends seek sanctuary with the somewhat unfriendly Lurline, and experience ever more adventures as they try to keep out of Dorothy’s clutches and find the rest of the order. It is difficult to describe the book in too much detail as I don’t wish to give anything away, particularly as the final installment of the trilogy has only just been released. This book is as easy to read as the first and is gripping and fast-paced, full of action; because of this, things can sometimes seem a little rushed and may require more than one read, but this is simply due to the many dangers and chaotic events that follow Amy rather than being a flaw in the writing of the author. The twist at the end, which involves both Amy and Dorothy, is brilliant and sets us up nicely for the next book, ‘Yellow Brick Wars’, which promises to be just as exciting and thrilling as the rest of the series!

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Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. But I never expected Oz to look like this. A place where Good Witches can’t be trusted and Wicked Witches may just be the good guys. A place where even the yellow brick road is crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I’ve been given a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And then – Dorothy must die.”

REVIEW: I have always been a huge fan of the tale of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. As it was my mum’s favourite childhood film and book, I became absorbed in the world of Oz from a very young age, and have never truly left it. Even now, at nearly twenty, my room contains a number of Wizard of Oz memorabilia that has been bought for me over the years. Because of this fascination I have with the land of Oz, I’m always looking out for books that bring a fresh new twist to one of my favourite tales – and Danielle Paige’s ‘Dorothy Must Die’ has certainly done that. At the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Amy Gumm, a teenage girl from Kansas who is suffering with bullies at school and a neglectful, alcoholic mother at home. When a tornado sweeps through the trailer park where Amy and her mother live, Amy finds herself crash-landing in an Oz that is barely recognisable, bathed in what seems to be eternal night and covered with barren land. With the help of a Munchkin girl named Indigo and a monkey named Ollie, Amy begins the initial stages of her journey to the Emerald City to find out exactly what has happened to the land she knows so well from the books and movies. What Amy ends up finding, however, is something much darker than she could have imagined. Dorothy has returned to Oz and, trapped by her greed for magic, has become a ruthless dictator, controlling the entire land of Oz and systematically draining it of its magic – and it seems that Amy is the only one who can stop her. Upon being recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, Amy is given training to develop her own magical and fighting potential by a group of renegade witches, who all persist in telling her the same thing – she is the only one who can defeat Dorothy, and Dorothy must die. Amy’s journey through Oz, and her attempts to grow close to Dorothy by becoming a Palace maid, is extremely gripping, both thrilling and sometimes terrifying the reader, but always with a hint of Amy’s sarcastic humour to lighten the dark tone of the tale. The transformation of Dorothy from the innocent heroine we know and love into a malicious and calculating dictator is one that stuns the reader, and makes the story even more gripping. The novel ends on a frustrating cliffhanger, with the reader desperate to go on to the next stage of the journey with Amy – fortunately, a sequel is due for release in early May which I personally am greatly looking forward to. What amazed me most about this book, however, was the brilliance of its storytelling – that it could turn I, the little girl who dressed up as Dorothy for years on end and worshipped her on film and in print, ¬†into a vicarious member of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked ¬†– that is what amazes me the most about this novel.