Author: Danielle Paige
Length: 293 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audio Book
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?
Protagonist: Amy Gumm has failed in her task to kill Dorothy, instead she is flown away by monkeys while the Emerald City falls into ruin and the true ruler of Oz, Ozma, is joining her on her journey. Amy needs to remove the gifts that Dorothy's friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Lion were given by the Wizard before she can kill Dorothy. She already has the Heart of Tin, and soon hopes to reunite with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and figure out their next move, but there's more to Oz than Amy knows and on this journey, she'll find more than what she's looking for. I really like the character of Amy and in this book, we get a deeper look into who she is than just the other girl from Kansas who has a chip on her shoulder. One of the things I was really drawn to was that she's not a heroine of pure innocence and goodness, in fact, there are a few times when her morality is called into question, but she's doing what she does for the good of Oz. She walks the road of an anti-hero and it's her imperfect morality that is relatable, she's not a perfect person who always does the right thing, she blurs lines to get what needs to get done, done.
Romance: Honestly, I'm contemplating not even having this section, but we'll see how it goes. There isn't all that much romance in this book. I mean, there are some great scenes with Nox and Amy, and you can tell that there are definite feelings there, but Amy's not about to get all goo-goo eyed and distracted from her goal of killing off Dorothy. There are also some great moments with Pete, and for a bit there I actually thought the author would introduce a love triangle, and for a second there I was actually okay if that was the path the author wanted to take with the story. However, it becomes very apparent that what's going on between Pete and Amy is strictly platonic. I was surprised at the lack of romance and was even hoping for a bit more than we got, but the author did a fantastic job showing a character who is feeling romantic feelings but is also on a mission and can't let those feelings get in her way.
World Building: There's actually quite a bit of world building to this story. Since the events at the end of the first installment, magic is coming back to Oz, and with it, the landscape is changing, it's a bit less dystopian and a bit more fantasy, but don't get me wrong it's still dark. The biggest enigma to this world is Ozma, specifically how she is both Pete and Ozma, and who Pete is, is he just another form of Ozma, or is he his own person? That' s a question that will not only be answered but explored quite a bit in this book. I really like the Ozma/Pete dynamic as it adds a bit of a wrinkle into the Oz lore, and shakes things up a bit. There's still so much left of Oz to explore, in this book we arrive, or return depending on if you read the Wizard Returns novella, to the kingdom of the wingless ones and learn more about the winged monkeys and specifically more about their queen, Lulu. We also see Amy making her way through some odd Oz locales and to one place in particular. I don't think it'd be a spoiler to say it, at least not a very big one, but there's something inside holding me back from gushing about it. Then there's the stuff we find out toward the end. I'm not going to give it away, obviously, but it makes me look at Oz in a whole new way.
Predictability: Something I noticed about this book was that even though the author does a fantastic job of weaving the foreshadowing of this book to both tease future twists and mislead the reader, one thing stood out and that was that if I hadn't read the prequel novellas, things wouldn't have made as much sense as they do when I did. Granted, while the second installment was enjoyable, it doesn't really tie into this book but the first and third installments add a level of understanding to this world that without it might have made the ending of this book confusing, or should I say more confusing. On the whole, I was surprised by a great many things, but there were a few twists in this book that I'm hoping will be further explored in either the next installment or another prequel novella.
Ending: The ending of this book is a bit weird. Ironically, I ended up mostly listening to this book so imagine my surprise when I thought that the final climax already commenced and things were ramping up into a cliffhanger, only for there to still be nearly an entire hour left in the book. That's of course where the real final climax begins, more or less. Things heat up towards the end of this book and there are some shocking revelations made and just when things can't get crazy enough, well then they just get confusing. I mean, for the most part, things made sense but the final chapter of this story really leaves you hanging and I can't fully comprehend what happens so hopefully when I get to the next book there'll be some sort of explanation to what I just read/listened to.
For the most part, I really loved this installment. The anti-heroine was fantastic and the world building is phenomenal, but the ending was a bit on the intense and confusing side, and if I hadn't read the prequel novellas I wouldn't have had as much of an understanding of this story as I did and probably would have been even more confused.