I love retellings of fairy tales, fables, and other books – anything that shows the reader new and unexplored depths of plot and character fascinate me. Some of my favourite books are new takes on older tales (Tiger Lily, Deathless). So it goes without saying that I was thrilled to pick up this book and dive back into Oz.
It wasn’t what I hoped for.
After seeing a stellar review of this book I considered myself lucky to grab a copy from the library. My high hopes sank consistently as I ploughed through chapter after chapter. Dorothy Must Die did have some good things going for it, and I’ll begin with those.
Amy Gunn is an interesting protagonist. She’s trailer trash, and unashamed of it. Her relationship with her mother is complex and antagonistic, and totally believable. Amy’s Oz is not Dorothy’s Oz. It’s dark and twisted and I was eager to learn more about it.
All of the classic characters have been fundamentally twisted in disturbing and creative ways. The transformation of Dorothy and her three companions was great. I loved the Munchkins and the flying monkeys and really the whole concept of the characters and the book itself. The reader learns right along with Amy how terrible things have become.
I didn’t enjoy the execution of the plot.
I read this book with a great deal of impatience. Every fantastic idea that I came across was mired in pages and pages of inconsequential (read: boring) action. The necessary plot and character development that occurred could have done so in a book half this size. It meandered on, too in love with repeating how atrocious and cruel Dorothy was rather than getting to the ‘how’ of Dorothy’s defeat or the ‘why’ of Ozma’s situation or the compliance of Oz as a whole.
The romance was unnecessary and odd, and I liked Amy when she had a concrete goal, not when she was jealously guarding a love interest that wasn’t really anything.
I would have loved to see some solid characterization of any of the side characters. So many different faces were touched on so briefly, it was a whirlwind of missed opportunity.
My thoughts are sort of all over the place, as the book was sort of all over the place. Will I read the next book? Maybe if I have extra time and nothing compelling to read.
If you’re going to read a re-telling of Oz, I would stick with Wicked.