Author: Danielle Page
Publisher & Release Date: HarperCollins, April 1
The Hook: Page twists an old story on its head: Dorothy is draining Oz of its magic, monkeys are cutting their wings off in desperation, and the remaining Witches are fighting to overthrow her despotic rule.
The Lowdown (from Amazon): My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
Overall Impressions: Amy is “trailer poor”, with an addict mother who barely seems to realize she’s there and an arch-nemesis in pink and sequins at school. So when she’s swept up into a tornado and plonked down in Oz, you’d think she’d be better off. Unfortunately, this Oz is far grimmer than the one from the storybooks. Seriously dark, in fact – one of the first people you meet is literally melted out of her skin by Dorothy’s goons. I kept getting surprised at how gruesome some of the fates were that befell various characters.
Amy’s inclusion in the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked is heavily coerced, defined as “good” only when compared to the total, capital-E Evil of Dorothy. The reader is kept guessing throughout the entire training and even later what the Witches are really up to – and how much of the truth they’re actually sharing with Amy. It adds an extra layer of uncertainty with the obligatory love interest, Nox, as well, because Amy repeatedly discovers their interactions are deliberately designed to force her to tap her inner magic.
You quickly find out why their methods are dirty, though: as soon as Amy sneaks into the Emerald City, everything else was unicorns and fuzzy bunnies in comparison.
The Highs: I love the new spin on the mythology of Oz – Page clearly did her research, tying in elements that will please both fans of the original L Frank Baum series as well as the silver screen adaptation. I was completely absorbed by the characters and the world-building right from the start – there’s solid story-telling peppered with surprises around every bend. I enjoyed the threads of unknowns that pulls the reader through the story – who’s Pete? How was Amy “bound”? Why are the shoes so captivating?
Dorothy’s ferociously unfair punishments and insane rules are made all the worse by the thought-policing over the servants and subjects of the lands of Oz, something that will resonate with readers as its own special kind of horror. I think other fans of dystopian fiction will appreciate this post-apocalyptic sort of Oz, as well as fans of dark fairy tales, such as Meyer’s Cinder and Chalice by Robin McKinley.
Buzzkills: Honestly, the romance included felt a little rote. I was far more interested in following Amy’s journey to the Emerald City to kill Dorothy. Fortunately for me, the relationship wasn’t really central to the story, although some readers might prefer more.
The Source: Galley from the publisher
Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor green goo was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.