Dorothy Must Die, Book 1

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Dorothy Must Die, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Dark, violent reimagining of Oz makes Dorothy evil dictator.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers familiar with the characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, will enjoy reading a darker side of the story and comparing the new version with what they know from the classic. 

Positive Messages

Strong messages against bullying and about the importance of friendship and family, helping others in times of need, love, being smart and careful, thinking things through, and standing up for yourself and others. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Readers see Amy Gumm grow from being an everyday high school student who struggles in school and his bullied, to being a heroine in a fairy-tale world. Amy's likable and funny. Although, her sarcasm does get her into trouble -- in school, with her mother, and eventually in Oz. But Amy's also someone who doesn't hold back. She's kind and caring, and helps out those in need. She feels strongly about the injustices in Oz. Even though she joins forces to take down Dorothy and restore Oz to it's former glory, she doesn't want to hurt anyone, including Dorothy. There are other positive role models in Dorothy Must Die, including talking and non-talking animals, and various residents of Oz who aid Amy in her mission.


There's a lot of violence in Dorothy Must Die, with blood and gore is described. There's a destructive tornado, a person melts, flying monkeys get their wings clipped, souls are eaten, a person's arms get taken off, people and animals are experimented on, a person's corpse is re-animated, an animal's crushed and stabbed. Amy's mission is to kill Dorothy. There's and-to-hand combat, fighting with weapons like knives. 


Mild flirting, a hug, and a kiss. 


"Bitch," "bitchy", "ass," "dumbass," "a--hole," "goddamn," "f--k," "s--t."  name calling includes "idiot," and "dumb." Amy, Dorothy, and a Munchkin swear.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dorothy drinks an alcoholic drink. Amy's mother is an alcoholic. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dorothy Must Die is a darker version of Frank L. Baum's classic 1900 children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the 1933 movie teens are familiar with. Amy Gumm, a modern teen from Kansas, is swept up in a tornado and brought to Oz to be its new savior. Years ago, Dorothy returned to Oz and became obsessed with magic. The Lion, Tin Woodman, and Scarecrow are also twisted, monstrous versions of their former selves. Amy's mission is to kill Dorothy, and the book has a lot of violent scenes that are very descriptive. There's also fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Strong language includes "bitch" "ass," "a--hole," "s--t", "f--k," and "goddamn."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written by25mecool19 October 14, 2019
there is a little bit of swearing and violence but not much! i think it's 11+!!!
Adult Written byKimmie G. August 26, 2016

If you like fantasy books, look no further! This is the book for you!

This is an amazing book with a twisted tale!
I really enjoyed this book! It's definitely a favorite of mine.
I love how Dorothy is the antagonist! Amy Gumm... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bybell l December 26, 2017

Hear me out!!!!

This series is awesome, and when you start a series, you want to finish it. So throughout the series there is kissing, and a moment in the third book in which N... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byXinaTurtle July 26, 2015

Interesting premice

This book was okay. The premise was really good and would recommend for fans of tim burtons Alice and wonder land. Their was quite a bit of violence but I didn... Continue reading

What's the story?

Amy Gumm (cleverly named after The Wizard of Oz actress Judy Garland's actual last name), is a teen who lives in Kansas with her alcoholic mother in a trailer park. One day, a destructive tornado sweeps through her town and takes Amy to Oz. A big fan of the classic children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, she's extremely surprised to find Oz really exists. She's also shocked to learn that Dorothy, the sweet farm girl from Kansas, has taken over Oz as a maniacal dictator and is obsessed with magic. Through her greed, she's destroyed Oz and is willing to hurt anyone who stands in her way. She's murderous, evil, and wicked, and so are her henchman -- the Lion, the Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow. She's everything readers thought the Wicked Witch of the West was. But in Dorothy Must Die, wicked is good and good is wicked. Or is it? Amy joins forces with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to take down Dorothy once and for all. But all Amy really wants is to go home. And in Oz, Amy learns there's truly no place like home.

Is it any good?

DOROTHY MUST DIE is an extremely imaginative take on the classic children's story The Wizard of Oz. Once Amy steps into Oz, readers immediately see the Oz they know from the original book series and 1939 movie, then a new darker, twisted version emerges. There are monsters, swearing munchkins, an evil Dorothy, wizards and witches, talking animals, and more.

It's a fast-paced, exciting tale. However, the long section where Amy trains with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked drags a bit, leaving readers yearning for Amy to get back into the Emerald City. The novel ends on a huge cliffhanger, whetting readers' appetite for seeing Amy complete her mission: to take down Dorothy and her henchman.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about retellings of the Oz story. How do you think Dorothy Must Die compares with Frank L. Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz books, the movies The Wizard of Oz movie (1939) and Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), or the musicals Wicked and The Wiz

  • Why are we so fascinated with Oz and its characters? 

  • Dorothy Must Die has been optioned for a TV series on the CW network. It's being developed by the creators of the television series Heroes. Do you think you would watch it? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and classics

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