Warning: The spoiler-free thoughts section of this post will contain DOROTHY MUST DIE SPOILERS
By: Danielle Paige
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Buy it here!
In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.
To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die….
But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?
Earlier this year I finally got around to reading DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige, and it was quite possibly one of my favourite books in years! It’s only been over the last five years or so that I’ve actually read a number of Baum’s Oz books, properly watched the 1939 movie, and started to realise that the land of Oz in all of its numerous books, movies, and retellings are some of my favourite works of fiction of all time. The other highly prominent Oz retelling, the book-turned-musical Wicked is potentially my favourite story ever. So when I read Dorothy Must Die at the start of the year, it was such an amazing read and had left me clamouring for more.
The first thing that struck me when I first opened the box when THE WICKED WILL RISE arrived at my house was just how much shorter it was than its predecessor. While Dorothy Must Die was a fairly hefty book coming in at close to 500 pages, this sequel is only 294 pages long, which at first worried me. But as soon as I started reading it was clear that the shorter page-count did not equate to a lower-standard book. As I had hoped for, The Wicked Will Rise opens up seconds after the massive events at the end of the previous book, and from page 1 the book gets off to an absolutely action-packed, high-octane beginning with Amy and the recently re-transformed Ozma, true Princess of Oz, being carried away from a burning Emerald City by our favourite Wingless flying monkeys, Ollie and Maude. Amy is in a much darker (if that’s even possible) and more dangerous situation throughout this book as her mentors from the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked are all missing following the battle in the Emerald City and the Wizard, as she last saw him, was locked in combat with Glinda. All the while, Amy still has the task of stealing the Lion’s courage and taking the Scarecrow’s brain before she can kill Dorothy. Her journey through Oz in this second book takes Amy to new magical lands where she meets several new magical people, however she has no idea where Dorothy is, and while this means that the magic is returning to Oz, it also means she has no idea where she might find Dorothy, and worse, where Dorothy might find her.
The rest of this post is going to contain a lot of spoilers for this book, so if you haven’t already, go and read Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise before reading the rest of this review!
Holy smokes, this book was WONDERFUL (excuse the pun). From beginning to end the story really is high-octane with danger for Amy and Ozma around every corner, and I genuinely don’t think that I can think of any plot point that I think didn’t fit into the story or anything that didn’t flow beautifully. I absolutely adored the way in which Amy adapts to her new situation in this sequel, learning more how to use her magic and fighting against the darkness she feels growing inside of her. On more than one occasion I felt myself genuinely quite intimidated by the way that Amy acts, prominently in the scene where she fights the Lion and manages to steal his courage. While she realises she possesses the power to drift in and out of a strange dark shadow-like world, she manages to overcome the Lion with relative ease, however as she easily defeats him she uses her newfound strength to excessively destroy the Lion, for lack of a better word, even after she takes his courage, but calms herself enough to allow the Lion, now returned to his cowardly state, to live. This power weaves its way through the rest of the story, with Amy’s progression constantly being questioned by her wondering what she is becoming–if she, like Dorothy, is becoming evil. Becoming wicked.
I really loved the chapters in the monkey’s habitat, with Amy meeting Lulu, Queen of the Wingless Flying Monkeys. She was such a funny character to read and I felt like I could picture her so easily with Paige’s descriptions of the monkey being so vivid and humorous. Queen Lulu sends Amy and Ozma on their quest to find Polychrome, and while on their trip they are forced to walk through the Fog of Doubt. That was my favourite scene from the book, and perhaps the series so far. It was pretty scary to read, with Amy explaining that it’s just as frightening to be blinded by light so much that you can’t see anything around you than it is to be in a pitch dark place. She hears the voices of all of the people she’s known, from her mom, to Nox, to Pete, to Madison Pembleton, the bully from her school. Their voices try to tear her down, but it’s in that Fog that Amy realises who she is and what she really wants. After they leave the Fog, the story begins to work towards its climax with Amy and Ozma eventually coming across a seemingly never-ending ocean, and only when Amy believes she is completely lost do they find the Island of Lost Things. And who is waiting on that island for them? None other than Nox, who Amy pretty quickly shares a very sloppy non-movie-like kiss, which was, as you can expect, hilarious to read about from Amy’s narrative.
Another thing that I really liked seeing in this sequel was the way that Paige incorporated more of the original Baum books into this dark re-telling. I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly which book it was, but I remember loving the story of Tip in Baum’s original work, so when it was revealed that the character of Pete was actually Tip grown up in The Wicked Will Rise, I was so happy!
Danielle Paige’s writing continues to be nothing short of brilliant in this sequel too. It’s not spectacular flowing prose, but it’s 290 pages of a fantastic narrative from Amy Gumm. It’s funny, poignant, and often inspirational, as Amy’s arc in this story sees her go through so many physical, mental, and emotional tests which force her to learn who she really is, and seeing her accept herself and fully understand herself is so uplifting. If anything, I think the only downfall for me was the convolution of the plot towards the end. I loved the plot, don’t get me wrong, but at some points I was working hard to try to follow what was happening. The cliffhanger at the end was awesome, but I had to re-read the end of the second last chapter a few times to figure out what had actually happened!
In the end, this book was another fantastic instalment in Danielle Paige’s dark and twisted Oz, and the ending has me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book!