Author: Danielle Paige
Length: 100 pages
Source: Library Audiobook
There’s a new Wicked Witch in Oz—and her name is Dorothy. This digital original novella is the second installment in the prequel arc to the edgy and exciting New York Times bestseller Dorothy Must Die.
Dorothy Gale is back . . . and she’s not the sweet little heroine of Oz anymore. She’s power-hungry and vicious, and she leaves a trail of destruction beneath her spike-heeled, magical shoes. But behind the scenes, there’s someone else pulling the strings. Someone who doesn’t want fame or glory—just control.
Glinda of the North brought Dorothy back to Oz for a reason. And in The Witch Must Burn, a young maid is about to discover that a witch who says she’s Good might be the most dangerous kind of Wicked.
The Witch Must Burn, by debut author Danielle Paige, is a dark and compelling reimagining of a beloved classic and is perfect for fans of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.
Protagonist: Jellia, Dorothy's head maid, doesn't like that Dorothy barged her way into the Emerald City and deposed Ozma as the rightful ruler of Oz. Technically, for all intents and purposes, Ozma was still the ruler but she hadn't been the same Ozma Jellia had known for a long time. After a chance meeting with the "Good" witch of the South, Glinda, Jellia finds her services loaned to Glinda for the summer. As she stays in Glinda's palace she meets strange characters and learns that while Dorothy may be the figurehead, Glinda's the one with all the real power. With Glinda conducting dangerous experiments, Jellia needs to find a way back to the Emerald City before it's too late. It's interesting, seeing as I just reread No Place Like Oz, where Dorothy was the sympathetic narrator turned bratty tyrant, to read a story in this prequel arc from someone very levelheaded. While Jellia does have a great deal of character development and the character she is in the beginning, isn't the character she is in the end, her development makes her a stronger force for the good of Oz and in many ways mirrors the journey Amy takes in the first full installment of this series.
World Building: In this story, there's a lot that we learn, and depending on when you read this novella, there will be different amounts of world building. Personally. I read it after reading the first full installment in this series, Dorothy Must Die, and while there were definitely things I knew or at the very least could infer from reading that installment, there was still a great deal to figure out in this story. Since this story focuses on Jellia, we learn so much more about her than we do in DMD, and one of the great parts about it is that there are things that we learn about her that, at the beginning of the book, she doesn't even know. Then there's Glinda, while we don't really learn about her past from this story, we do get to understand her character better. We saw her as a maternal figure to Dorothy in No Place Like Oz, and other than being a warden to the munchkins mining for magic in DMD, I don't think we saw her much at all, in this story we get to see just how ambitious and power hungry she can be. I haven't continued the main series, so I'll be interested to see just where she falls in the final hierarchy of villains. We do see, or meet depending on how you read this series, familiar characters from the main series and while nothing is really expanded upon them, I did enjoy how they mixed into the overall story and Jellia's journey.
Predictability: Since this is such a short adventure, there aren't a whole bunch of twists and turns, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were moments that truly caught me off guard. There were quite a few times actually that I let my mind and imagination go wild and came up with the craziest theories to try and figure out how this story might end while not retconning the series canon. It's not as though there weren't things I didn't see coming, in fact, I had a good idea where things might end up, but it was the journey to getting there that truly added a level of unpredictability to this story.
Ending: This story doesn't have a traditional final climax like most YA tales, even novellas, have, however, this story does have a fantastic ending. I'm not going to give anything away, but there are some fantastic moments at the end of this story that almost had me on the edge of my seat, well they would if I was sitting down, but still the sentiment holds. After what I would call the final climax there's still some things that need to be taken care of before the ending and when this story does end, what I liked is that it felt like an actual ending, there's no cliffhanger, and yet still you want to know what's going to happen next.
I actually debated with this rating for a bit, which normally means I wouldn't give a story five stars if I have to think about it, but this story was really well built. It had a fantastic narrator, intriguing premise, fantastic world building, and an end that stayed true to the function of this novella, a small part of a larger prequel.