Novella Review: No Place like Oz by Danielle Paige


This book is the prequel novella to Dorothy Must Die, and it explains how Dorothy became evil and why she “must die.” It takes the reader on a journey beginning in Kansas where Dorothy finds herself bored with home and wishing for the magic of Oz again. With some wishing and some good ole’ witch magic, Dorothy is back in Oz and ready to stay awhile. But, this time, not as a guest. She is wishing for Queendom now.

I liked Dorothy Must Die and I read this book about a year after I read the first one, which I just want to lay on the table in case that affects my review. I can’t say I liked this book as much as the first one, though.

Alright, a prequel was definitely needed, and I think it sets a solid foundation for the rest of the series. But sometimes I feel like it’s better to leave some mystery in the story. I feel like this series is lending itself to too many novellas and side stories, and I think it doesn’t give the reader any creative work. Nope, you don’t have to think about anything because another novella is coming to explain it all. Then again, I do think this novella is needed for the story.

Dorothy is an obvious villain in Dorothy Must Die. There is no sympathy from the reader; she is cruel, unreasonable, and selfish at the expense of others. She needs to die? Good. No Place Like Oz humanizes Dorothy and shows her beginnings to make the reader feel more empathy toward her. No we’re thinking, alright, I can see why you left Kansas. I get it. That makes sense. I think humanized villains always make for a better story because it shows that the world isn’t always black and white.

The plot of the novella is perfect for explaining and shows a great bridge between the original Wizard of Oz and the new series. I wished the process of getting to Oz was explained more, but it’s never really clear in any of the series by Baum or Paige, so I guess that’s just the charm.

Otherwise, I just didn’t click with the book. I didn’t like the writing style used for Dorothy. It’s in first person, and the book is set in Kansas in the beginning of the 1900s. I feel like Dorothy’s voice should have felt older, but instead the words and dialogue flowed like an average contemporary novel, similar to the voice of Amy in Dorothy Must Die.

And, for some reason, I felt like all the dialogue seemed unrealistic. The motives of the characters were blind to the reader. Like Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. The two got sucked into going to Oz with Dorothy, and the entire time they just pleaded to go home over and over and over. I would personally love to be in Oz if my usual home was a gray shack in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. Since there was no clear reason to go home, I just felt like the conversations didn’t flow well with the plot line.

I would definitely call this novella a necessity if you want to read the Dorothy Must Die series, but it wasn’t my favorite book to read. I still plan on reading The Wicked will Rise, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up any of the other novellas.

3 Stars


Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige



Dorothy is Oz’s new blue and white checkered dictator. And Amy Gumm is Oz’s new pink-haired traveler of the dilapidated yellow brick road. Wicked and Good have lost their meaning, and Amy is fighting with the Wickeds to save Oz from Dorothy’s fascist regime. Dorothy has a bit more up her sleeve than the Wicked Witch of the West, and she’s using all the magic in Oz to keep her position and execute those against her. Amy’s mission: kill Dorothy.

Let’s first talk about my surprise at the writing style in the book. I didn’t dislike it, and I should have known it would be like that based on the inside cover blurb, but I was a little shocked to read the first-person contemporary-like narrative. I figured this book would be like The Lunar Chronicles or The Hunger Games or Divergent. All these series have the same thing in common: third-person perspectives. I figured with an action/adventure type book, it was protocol to write in third-person, and the narrative threw me off.

While I was thrown off, I didn’t hate it. It made the story more personal and comedic. Her opinions and the way she figures things out happen with the reader, and we don’t see all the wheels turning, just her view of things. I liked the change. Not only contemporary novels should harvest first-person perspectives.

Now, the idea for the book is amazing. Dorothy, evil? Beautiful. It’s one of those ideas that completely blow my mind, even though it is so simple. Because, come on, who doesn’t think Dorothy’s girlish innocence and peppy attitude is a bit unnerving? She seems very unrealistic in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Paige’s added corruption makes everything more interesting.

Paige sprinkles the novel with references to the complete Oz series, and she adds a contemporary twist to everything. A heroine with pink hair and a goth munchkin who greets her with moving tattoos. Oz was once a beautiful country, and now the whole area is feeling the depression of Dorothy’s rule. Amy’s thoughts and actions are expected by the typical high school girl, and she isn’t a fully goody-two-shoes and completely smiley like Dorothy was. Paige’s fresh take on Oz may be morbid, but sucks the reader in quickly.

Warning, from here on, I’ll get rant-y.

At some points, I already thought Amy had figured something out because it was pretty much blatantly stated and I knew, but she didn’t have the epiphany until a couple chapters later. And this happens multiple times.

And the plot structure. The action wasn’t spaced out. In the beginning, I was just waiting for things to happen, and by the end, I was wondering how she was going to fit it all in. Let’s take a look at the back cover.



**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS** That whole thing doesn’t come in until the last five pages. It’s a wonderful tagline, let’s be honest. This makes me want to binge read the whole series (curse the fact books in series come out a year later). BUT, do not put it on the back of the book if it doesn’t even show up in the book until the end! Basically, this is showing me the whole book is setup for the rest of the series! That’s fine and everything, for instance, The Lightening Thief introduced Greek mythology by showing a feud between the gods then added the problem of the Titans near the end which is what the rest of the series is focused towards. The difference is it didn’t have a catchy tagline about the Titans in the first book if they didn’t appear until the end!

That felt good to get off my chest. The book was fabulous, but a little unexpected due to the writing style and misleading tagline. I will most definitely be reading the rest of the series! And I have yet to read the novella prequel on how Dorothy appeared in Oz, but I will and I’ll write a mini review on that as well.

4 Stars