A Richly Layered Prequel Novella | Review of ‘No Place Like Oz’ (Dorothy Must Die 0.1)


By Cynthia Ayala

No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige HarperCollins

Dorothy Gale, while happy to be back with her family, is unhappy with her dreary life back in Kansas where she was been reduced to just another ordinary prairie girl. Dorothy wants nothing more than to be returned to the vibrant landscapes of Oz, to be a hero of the people, but more importantly, a celebrity. And when a pair of red shoes appear under her bed with a note from an old friend, Dorothy knows just how to get back to Oz, and this time she’ll stay there, no matter the cost.

Published November 12, 2013, by HarperCollins, No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige is the first in her short story collection that expands her take on Oz in her Dorothy Must Die series.

No Place Like Oz really develops who Dorothy Gale and presents a different side of her. Not just the villainous side of her but the side of her that is very believable and an extension of the Dorothy everyone knows and loves, the girl who went over the rainbow. That’s probably what worked out so well for the narrative is how relatable Dorothy is. She’s a girl who feels stuck in her life and a girl who wants more than is probably obtainable for her. She’s down to earth but at the same time, she wants magic in her life, she wants there to be adventure, she wants everything to be unpredictable. She’s relatable and it’s so easy to sympathize with her through the lens of this story. Together, that presents a very different side of her than the villainous side of her that readers see in the Dorothy Must Die series and it puts into question of whether she’s a villain at all.

There is a lot that happens here and so much about Dorothy that is evolved. She’s superficial, sure, but is she really? There is some sort of magic going on here that is bringing out all of Dorothy’s darkest desires, everything she wants, everything that she covets in the world, and it is what makes her dark, but it still doesn’t make her a villain. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing sinister going on around her, building up who she and warping her into something dark and wicked.

Paige does an excellent job of giving the readers a deeper look into who the villains are of her best-selling series. Dorothy as a character has so much meat on her bones as she evolves from Kansas girl to Wicked Witch. And the allegory here is so clear: that power is corruptible. Darkness exist everywhere, around all the characters here and Paige shows that to the reader. There are lessons in the story not just about power being corruptible but also about fear and greed being corruptible. It’s a story that has so many layers to it that all add together to make this wonderful prequel novella. It’s short but it packs a punch and gives the reader a little more insight into Dorothy and where her reign of power came from. (★★★★☆ |A)

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