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Literature / Dorothy Must Die

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Dorothy Must Die is a 2014 young adult book and the debut novel of Danielle Paige.

Amy Gumm is an intelligent young teen coming from a broken home, and is taken to the wonderful land of Oz in a tornado. However, she isn't in the Oz that she remembers from the movie and the books - and the Dorothy she meets is certainly not the Dorothy that she is familiar with. She is rescued from a Fate Worse than Death and then joins the Order of the Wicked who tells her their one goal: Dorothy Must Die.

There are three sequels: The Wicked Will Rise (2015), Yellow Brick War (2016), and The End of Oz (2017). A series of prequels and midquels building up to the first book have been published too, focusing on other characters including Dorothy, the Wizard, Jellia Jamb, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. All the digital novellas can be purchased alongside the first two books via e-reader bookstores.


Dorothy Must Die includes examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Amy repeats the word "cleavage" for emphasis when she describes Dorothy.
  • Abusive Parents: Amy's mother was never the same since the car accident, but in Yellow Brick War, she becomes a much more matronly figure.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Despite Amy having little sympathy for those she kills, each of Dorothy's companions have rather pitiful ends. Tin Man begs for mercy, the Lion dies a shell of his former self, and Scarecrow acts like his innocent self wondering why Dorothy has become so cruel.
    • Dorothy even gets some of this.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Dorothy is fond of wine, which the heroes use to their advantage more than once.
    • Amy's mother was one at the beginning. Near the end, Amy uses the Magic Picture of Oz to see her mother, and spots her in a celebration for being six months sober:
      Mom: "I just wish it hadn't taken losing everything I care about to get it."
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  • All There in the Manual: Dorothy's Start of Darkness is detailed in a prequel, and there are quite a lot of them.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Madison in the first book. She's much nicer when she reappears with her child.
    • Dorothy has exaggerated this.
  • Alternate Continuity: As revealed in the prequels, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz happened basically the same way, although Dorothy was 14 whereas in the book she's obviously much younger. The timeline has also been moved up as Uncle Henry mentions having fought in World War One, probably meaning that it happened around the time the more well-known film came out. The continuity with the original Oz books diverges further from there. Ozma takes the throne from the Scarecrow as in The Marvelous Land of Oz, although he's much more bitter about it in this version, and the rest of the books are retconned as Dorothy's return to Oz is completely different from Ozma of Oz. At the same time though, there are still a lot of cameos from characters of the later books, so perhaps they still happened in Broad Strokes in this continuity.
  • Anyone Can Die: Oh, lordy. In the corrupted remains of what used to be Oz, nobody is safe, not from Dorothy's wrath or from Amy's magical knife. Amongst the casualties as of the third book and numerous prequels include all four of Dorothy's companions at Amy's hand, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in the prequel, Indigo, Gert (averted), Jellia Jamb, Polychrome, and the Wizard.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Averted - Despite having a ceremony near the end of Yellow Brick War, there is no real need to do it other than to serve as a victory and remind Oz that the nightmare is over.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Glamora to the point of Body Horror: a lunar-shaped hole in one cheek.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The Wizard tries to be one, but learns the hard way that Evil Is Not a Toy.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the first novel, Amy hesitates a moment too long in killing Dorothy. She doesn't actually die. But Amy and the Wizard strike a decisive blow against her, by killing the Tin Woodman and removing his heart.
    • The third novel: Dorothy may finally be defeated... but now Glamora is possessed by Glinda and is assisting the new Big Bad.
  • Body Horror: The first book warrants its own page. The sequels tone it down.
    • The Tin Woodman has cyborg guards formed by the Scarecrow, part flesh, part mechanical.
    • Not only that, Indigo is killed with acid bubbles in a very gruesome way.
    • Glamora's cheek has a hole shaped like a crescent moon in it.
    • The Scarecrow, whose brain is a mess of pink goo.
    • The Lion has unnaturally bulging muscles that grow and shrink depending on how much fear he absorbs.
    • Dorothy when Oz's magic burns her
  • The Caligula: DOROTHY.
  • Canon Discontinuity: In the first book, Amy watches her mother in the magic picture, celebrating six months of sobriety. At the start of the third book, we learn that only a month has gone by during Amy's adventures in Oz. The line in the first book firmly establishing discontinuity indicates that Amy is still lost to her:
    Mom: "I just wish it hadn't taken losing everything I care about to get it."
  • Cats Are Mean: The Lion.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Ozma is...not all there, thanks to a spell Dorothy put on her. Tip, renamed Pete, is residing inside her. Sometimes he takes over and transforms Ozma's body into his aged-up form. Ozma sometimes shows hints of lucidity, which may be Tip speaking through her.
  • Crapsack World: Oz, most devastatingly, as illustrated by this entire page.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The map of Oz. Though now it's brown.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Ozma actually sees through Amy's disguise - but doesn't tell.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Zig-zagged - it's pretty clear the Tin Man is one of Dorothy's dragons, but some of the people who have been made into tin cyborgs are repentant. Even moreso in Yellow Brick War where they come to help.
  • Darker and Edgier: Even moreso than Return to Oz and (surprisingly) Wicked. In fact... this seems a little more like that Oz game the Alice developers were rumoured to be working on.
  • Disappeared Dad: Amy's father has abandoned her and her mom.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Dorothy regularly has servants executed on a whim, for offenses as small as accidentally looking directly at her face or not brushing her hair with exactly 1,000 strokes.
  • Drunk with Power: Oz's magic has this way with people from the "Other Place", that is, Earth. Becomes a plot point in Yellow Brick War.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Being an Oz book, Amy will most definitely have to do this.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Toto gets turned into a Cerberus-like monster in the third book.
  • Eldritch Location: Oz has become this.
  • Emotion Eater: The Lion, who literally sucks the fear from his victims.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Hey Wizard, good idea taunting Dorothy.
  • Eye Scream:
    • With a little help from Mombi, Amy does this with a knife when escaping the palace.
    • Later, when Amy is back in the palace in disguise, she sees the Lion punishing a guard who momentarily ogled Dorothy by extracting his eyes.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Given that Anyone Can Die, there are many ways of kicking the bucket in Oz, and none of them are pleasant. Dissolved by acid-bubbles, crushed by a house, eaten by the Lion, beheaded by a magical knife, take your pick!
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: A munchkin is DISSOLVED. Then this isn't getting into the other violence that Amy does in book two, as well as the Body Horror in Book Three.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • While not outright stated, Amy is sentenced to this.
    • When she's first captured, the Tin Woodman tells her that she would be sentenced to a "Fate Worse than Death" — precisely those words, capitalized, even.
  • From Bad to Worse: Amy's life in Kansas was already bad enough. Now she's coming to Oz.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dorothy, though this example is subverted since she was already famous in Oz. From Dorothy's perspective, she was being labelled as a nobody back in Kansas and her rise to power is fueled by her desire to be recognized and a little bit of manipulation from Glinda.
  • Genre Savvy: The Wicked and Ozma are quite aware of the No One Could Survive That! trope and are wary that Dorothy might not be dead.... which she isn't.
  • God Save Us From The Princess: Dorothy is the Princess.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The prequel suggests that Glinda is one for Dorothy, showing her bringing Dorothy back to Oz, knowing the shoes' magic would make her go insane in due time and eventually drive her to depose Ozma. It's hinted at even more in "End of Oz".
    • The Nome King is revealed to be The Chessmaster of everything, working with Glinda for a higher goal.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: In Dorothy-ruled Oz. God help you if she catches you not looking like you're "having the absolute best time of [your life] in her company". For this very purpose, Ozians often use a magical substance called PermaSmile, which is exactly what it sounds like — a magic gel that you put on your mouth and makes you smile.
  • Head Pet: Star acts as this to Amy.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Madison Pendleton, Alpha Bitch in Dwight Eisenhower High School, becomes a better person in the third book thanks to her new motherhood and being kicked out by her parents.
  • If you Kill Her you will be Just Like Her: Why Amy doesn't actually kill Dorothy when she finally gets the chance.
  • I'm Melting!: Indigo.
  • Kangaroo Court: Said word for word.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Dorothy reanimating Jellia Jamb after killing her.
    • The Cowardly Lion eating Amy's pet rat.
  • Knife Nut: Amy. She does not actually fit the usual personality though.
  • Mad Scientist: The Scarecrow has become this.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Glinda. Oh, boy.
  • The Mole: Amy is this to the Order of the Wicked, returning to the palace disguised as a servant. Jellia Jamb is actually this as well.
  • Mythology Gag: Gumm is Judy Garland's real last name.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Amy and Nox assume Dorothy's dead because her near-lifeless and heavily burned body is buried under the rubble of the Emerald City.
  • No-Sell: Amy manages to stab Dorothy with her famous knife... only to realize that nothing happened. Even Dorothy is surprised.
  • Not So Different:
    • Amy stops and ponders whether or not she's that different from Dorothy - after all, both are assassins.
    • Similarly, a lot of comparisons can be drawn between various characters presented in the "real" world. Notably Dorothy and Madison.
    • Becomes a plot point in Yellow Brick War, that Amy faces the same kinds of temptations that Dorothy did.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Zig-Zagged. It's explained in Yellow Brick War that The Nome King's magic is actually different because it's not Ozian magic.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both when Amy's father abandons her and her mother in the backstory, and then when her mother goes to a tornado party at the start of the story. For all practical purposes, her mother abandoned her after having an accident a few years earlier.
  • Princess Incognito: A variant: Tip, buried in a corner of Ozma's mind, sometimes takes control of her, transforming to his aged-up male form. He now calls himself Pete.
  • Reality Ensues: Dorothy is quite hurt after having a palace collapse on her - sure enough it hurts to walk.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In Book 2, Amy goes on this to the Lion after he eats Star. A soft command from the supposedly brain-fried Ozma pulls her back from outright killing the Lion, after removing his courage.
  • Sequel Hook: See Bittersweet Ending above. The Wicked Will Rise ends with Amy returning in Kansas, with the Order of the Wicked ordering her to rise. And Yellow Brick War ends with Madison being pulled into Oz, the revelation that Glinda is still there, and the Greater-Scope Villain being out there.
  • Single-Palette Town: The Emerald City, natch.
  • Slasher Smile: Put PermaSmile on and it will force this on. You will even still talk while grinning.
  • Start of Darkness: No Place Like Oz follows Dorothy's rise to power, drawn on by her desire for recognition, at first just to be believed and then it becomes It's All About Me.
    • The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion's are explored in their respective books, though the Tin Man's is forced upon him by Dorothy's ruby slippers removing his compassionate nature.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Amy and Nox find the last safe haven in Oz. Of course it does not last.
  • Title Drop: Happens at the end of chapter 14, the first book. After the Wicked has explained the situation of Oz, the witch Mombi majestically pronounces Amy's role in the plot:
    ''Simple. You're going to kill her. Dorothy must die."
  • Trapped in Another World: Par for the course — this is Oz after all.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: "End of Oz" has the narrative bounce back and forth between Amy and Dorothy.
  • The Unfought: Scarecrow.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The actions taken by Dorothy in the fourth book imply this is going on.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Dorothy prior to turning evil.
  • Villain Decay: The Lion — Justified because Amy steals his courage in their penultimate encounter.
  • Welcome to Corneria: The holograms of Ozma.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dorothy of all people is revealed to be this in "End of Oz" - she mentions that all she did was just for Oz.
  • Wham Episode: The entirety of the last few chapters of The Wicked Will Rise... when it's revealed Kansas and Oz occupy the same space.
    • Yellow Brick War continues this trend with The true Big Bad coming into play and dragging Madison into Oz within the last chapter.
  • Wicked Witch: Everything is upside down — the wicked witches are the heroes.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Tin Woodsman. While he's evil and kills without a second thought, he wasn't like that before Dorothy took over Oz, and part of the reason why he follows her orders is because he's madly in love with her, but she doesn't reciprocate.
    • Depending on your interpretation, Dorothy when it's revealed that she is literally Drunk with Power.
  • You Gotta Have Pink Hair: Amy. Justified in that she dyed it at first. Later on, it's made permanently pink.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Wizard attempts this only for Dorothy to do it to him first.

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