eBook Finish! Dorothy Must Die

I had bought a book by Danielle Paige that was sitting in my eLibrary for a while. I finally finished Dorothy Must Die last week and I immediately wanted the next one (which I bought on Nook already but didn’t read yet).

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Dorothy Must Die is part of a series so I’m making myself read them in a certain order. There are four books in the series-with the last book, End of Oz coming out just recently-and nine prequel novellas. I already finished the first prequel novella, No Place Like Oz and I want to read two more prequel novellas before I get to the next book, The Wicked Will Rise.

But anywho, if you’re looking to start a new YA series with a dark tone, Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die might be the end of your search!

As the title suggest, this series isn’t the technicolor fairytale one might think when Frank L. Baum’s world comes to mind. Everybody’s favorite witch-slaying farm girl in the silver slippers is the ruby shoe-wearing villain in this piece and it’s up to another girl from Kansas, Amy Gumm to stop her from sucking all the magic from Oz.

Amy’s not exactly your typical heroine. Amy lives with her drunk mother in a trailer park after her father walks out on them. Amy’s the outcast at school and after a fight with her mother, she gets ready to run away with her pet rat, Star only to realize her mom stole the cash she was hiding away. In true Dorothy fashion, a tornado whisks Amy, Star and the trailer to a place that is anything but what the stories said about Oz.

Amy meets some interesting characters, the first being a strange boy named Pete who rescues her from her trailer falling down a ravine and a punk-styled Munchkin who wants nothing to do with her. Through some unfortunate events, Amy is taken to the Emerald City to the “Princess of Oz” Dorothy.

Again, this is not the humble farm girl who came to Oz the first time. After the events in No Place Like Oz Dorothy has become a tyrant, taking all the magic from Oz while she lives in splendor in the the Emerald City. She kills on a whim and for the slightest infractions, and not only that but acts like a spoiled child.

And she does not like this other girl from Kansas coming in and taking away what she thinks makes her special. Amy is locked up then rescued later on by the Order of the Wicked, a group of wicked and good witches determined to put an end to Dorothy and her posse of corrupt friends.

Amy is forced to make an alliance with Mombi, Wicked Witch of the North, to join the Order and learn fighting and magic to kill Dorothy. The Witches teach Amy magic while Nox, a young man taken in by the Order, teaches her fighting. And yes, there is a love connection in the works. This wouldn’t be YA without it. Not that I’m complaining.

As Amy learns from the Order there are a lot of warnings and parallels drawn between her and Dorothy. They’re the girls from Kansas, outsiders who came from foreign worlds to make change in Oz. Whereas Dorothy helped save Oz once, she came back and is destroying the world. There’s a lot of speculation that Amy can save Oz from Dorothy but a lot of worry she could turn out just like her.

It’s very interesting, the similarities and differences between the two. The only similarities I can really see between the two is they are both from Kansas and have humble origins.

Dorothy grew up an orphan on a small farm under the loving care of her aunt and uncle. Even though she had no parents and did not live an extravagant life, she was still well-loved, first by her aunt and uncle, then by her friends in Oz. But her need to be more, to be loved and worshiped after her witch-slaying fame corrupted her in the end.

Amy grew up with a single mother who descended into alcoholism despite Amy’s attempts to help her. She’s trailer trash who’s picked on by the popular girl. She has no friends except for a pet rat. A rat, not a cute little dog like Toto. I like Star though, and she ends up being quite helpful and a source of some comfort to Amy during her mission in the castle. Amy is alone, feels unwanted by her mom, and angry. In this dark and crumbling Oz, her upbringing helps her handle what comes her way.

Amy is tasked with an undercover mission with one goal: kill Dorothy. Even with vague help from the mysterious gardener, Pete and the Wizard himself, her mission ends in failure. Well, not complete failure. She does gain some new information that could lead her a couple steps closer to killing Dorothy and saving Oz.

This is definitely a darker retelling of Oz where the good is wicked, the wicked is good, and one pink-haired girl is all that stands between one gingham-dressed princess wannabe and the destruction of an entire world.

 

eBook Finish! Demon Prince of Momochi House, vol. 6

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Pre-ordered this book for October so on the night of the release date, it said it was ready for download. I said to myself, “yay, but I should really wait till the morning to read it since it’s so late already.” Did I listen to me? No! So I stayed up late and finished volume 6 of the Demon Prince of Momochi House in, like, half an hour. Maybe less. It’s been a while since I breezed through a manga volume like that. And was left wanting more but I have to wait all the way to January for the next book, argh!!

Uh, anyway.

So last volume, Himari finally plucks up her courage and confesses her feelings to Aoi. And of course he rejects her for some unknown-but-maybe-kinda-obvious reason. Aoi turns away casually saying they better go get some of the watermelon everyone got or it’ll be all gone. The rejection is so brief Himari’s left kinda stunned.

Later that night in the bath, Himari notices the curse mark on her hand is gone, like Kasha said it would. Although he said something about it washing off in some hotsprings but hey, he’s a demon so I guess we can’t really trust anything he says.

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Aoi overhears and burst in on her in the tub demanding to see her hand. In classic comical fashion, Himari freaks out, smacks Aoi, and passes out from getting overheated. Yukari admonishes Aoi for bursting in a girl in the bath.

The next morning, all the residents have heard of Himari’s rejection. Yukari makes her sekihan (a sticky rice with red beans made for special occassions) while Ise and the others perform a song about how she got rejected to “comfort” her. It’s really hilarious but Himari doesn’t think so and rushes off to school.

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At school there’s a new teacher that everyone calls Natchi. Young type, he’s pretty popular with the students. He’s teaching one of Himari’s classes and has her come clean his office after it’s apparent she didn’t do the homework.

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When she arrives Natchi kind of sneaks up on her, appearing out of seemingly nowhere and questions her about Momochi house. He knows that Momochi house sits between the human and ayakashi worlds and asks if she’s seen anything weird in her house, especially if she’s seen a “mysterious boy.” O_O

Before Himari can say anything, a group of students arrive to hear some more interesting stories from Natchi. Himari does get the chance to tell him that her house is just old and she does know about the rumors but there’s nothing special about the house. When she turns away to start dusting the shelves, she thinks about how strange it is that Natchi seems to know about her house. Something about him also reminds her of Aoi.

O_O  Uh, a-anyway, Natchi proceeds to tell the students about a ghost in Kagome park. It’s a creepy story about a spirit that shows up at dusk wearing a school uniform asking children if want to peek inside his coat. Okay, that sounds more pedophile than anything, but the creepy thing is that any child who sees him disappears.

Natchi then tells the story of a yokai (spirit or demon) who guards the area. He talks about how beautiful this yokai is and people who see him turn in to yokai themselves. Which is why “you must never look at him.”

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O_O…. o_O!!! Holy cow, that’s the same thing Aoi says in the first volume when he transforms into the Nue!! In the beginning, Aoi would say “You mustn’t look at me” when he was about to become the Nue. Once, he even covered Himari’s eyes and said it. There might not be any significance to that but I thought I’d point it out anyway. Natchi doesn’t actually say he’s talking about the Nue but you got to wonder what he knows and how much.

Story time’s over and the students leave. Natchi asks if Himari needs to go back home to Momochi house while Himari questions who he is when she realizes all the stuff on his shelves are really old. He says collecting relics and books on that type of stuff is a hobby and shows her a special mirror called the “seeing mirror” that shows what’s inside people’s hearts.

Getting flustered, Himari pushes Natchi and the mirror away, causing Natchi to lose his balance and fall. The fallen books reveal Natchi is something of an occult freak like Senoo, one of Himari’s classmates, who likes collecting ghost stories and wants to be a playwright. He apologizes for scaring her because he hoped she would tell him some ghost stories about her house. Himari smiles and accepts his apology.

At the end of the chapter, the ghost from Kagome park shows up in the school hallways dragging a blindfolded Nue who is bound by a rope and paper seals.

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The next day Himari realizes she brought the seeing mirror home with her. Yukari tells her a superstition about how spirits pass through mirrors facing each other. Then Yukari comforts Himari over being rejected. Strange. In fact, everyone is being nice to her; Zushi and Ise too. Himari is bewildered by the weird kindness everyone is showing her. As she’s walking through the house an ayakashi appears! Telling it get out doesn’t work and then Kasha appears, saying that she’s the one who invited the “suspicious guest” into the house. He remarks how human can’t see themselves clearly and the shadow ayakashi  goes toward her.

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Aoi comes to the rescue and says the mirror might have something to do with the unexpected appearance of the shadow ayakashi. He tells her she should break the mirror but she’s reluctant to, since it doesn’t belong to her. She tells him what kind of mirror it is and Aoi asks if she was trying to see inside his heart. Blushing, she tells him no to which he responds that she didn’t need a mirror for that as he loves her.

Aoi says since he can’t leave the house he can’t always be with her. Himari tells him she’s not going anywhere and Aoi asks her if she wants to be trapped in the house with him. Confused, Himari says she wants to free him and he says it’s not possible since he’s already an ayakashi and transforms into the Nue.

The Nue asks if he frightens her and when she replies no, he smiles in a way that tells Himari that’s not really Aoi and she realizes she’s trapped in the mirror. The shadow ayakashi that was chasing her was actually her. Himari realizes the shadow was the her sorrow at being rejected by Aoi but she remembers that when she confessed her feelings he smiled for a moment.

Himari decides not to run from her pain and tries to find a way out by going to the big mirror in the house. She sees Aoi sitting on the porch and sees the two mirrors facing each other are a portal.

Suddenly Himari is woken up by Natchi. She’s back in his office, having fainted upon looking in the mirror. Natchi tells her she was out for a couple of minutes and she truly is a Momochi for having a strange experience. Himari insists she just had a dream while Natchi says he’ll lock the mirror away just to be safe, laughing creepily while Himari tells him not to abuse the mirror for ghost stories. Himari heads home, reflecting on the mysterious experience and feeling like she’s forgetting something. Aoi’s there waiting and welcomes her home.

Next adventure shows Aoi in a slump. As a result, the house is overrun with ayakashi. Then an old ayakashi named Nekobaba appears and cleans house for Aoi. Nekobaba is a two-tailed cat spirit called a nekomata and she treats Aoi as one of her own ever since he took to her as a kid.

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Nekobaba comes to visit

Turns out Nekobaba has a reason for visiting Momochi House. She wants Aoi to choose an ayakashi bride!

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As landlady, Himari cannot stand by and tells Nekobaba that this is not what Aoi wants right now and anyway, he’s human. Nekobaba simply scoffs at the statement and brushes her off.

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Nekobaba is pretty much a monster-in-law (no pun intended) and puts Himari to work cleaning. Thinking to play a trick on her, Nekobaba pretends she lost a hair ornament that she hides in her fur and has Himari look for it. And search Himari does, even when Nekobaba tells her she might have dropped it in the pond, Himari goes in looking, even after dark. When Nekobaba asks if she’s trying that hard to win her over by searching for the ornament, Himari just replies that that’s not it and it’s a family heirloom so it must be precious.

The pond search obviously turns out with nothing even with Aoi helping. The next night, the ayakashi lanterns that keep Momochi house lit instead of electricity get all wet causing a blackout. While that lanterns dry, Himari suggests they take advantage of the dark by having a “blackout hotpot” for dinner!

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Everybody puts their own edible ingredients in and the results prove hilarious. Nekobaba sees how the humans and ayakashi of Momochi house interact even though she believes the two shouldn’t mingle.

The next morning Nekobaba pops in on Himari and tells her she’s going back to her lair in the spiritual realm. Also, her hair ornament reappeared and she decides to give it to Himari. It looks bigger than a typical hair piece and Nekobaba says it was actually a lantern that is “supposed to light the way of the path of truth, but only once.” Nekobaba tells Himari that Aoi has been lost since the day he entered Momochi house. I think this pretty much means he’s forgetting how to be human or even that he is human. She asks if Himari can be like the lantern and light his way back.

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Of course, Nekobaba believes it’ll be less painful if Aoi just becomes an ayakashi but Himari disagrees, because it robs him of his human memories something no one should have to go through.

At school, some of the students decide to do a summer research project about the Kagome park ghost. Hayato believes he might have seen the ghost and that his friend disappeared. This prompts Himari to ask if a family named Nanamori (Aoi’s last name) lived in the area. Curiously, the students answer no. One of the girls Rui tells Himari she looked at the town register and there was no family by the name of Nanamori.

The students ask Mr. Nachi if he might have an older map of the town to see if the name will show up. He gets excited at the idea that it might be supernatural related and Himari tells him it’s not.

As Himari’s leaving his office she realizes what she’d forgotten at the end of the mirror incident. After Himari looked into the mirror was when the illusion started, the books fell over and Natchi had told her about himself and his interest in the occult. And yet he said she fainted soon after looking in the mirror. Himari wonders just how much of what happened was an illusion.

Back in his office, Natchi takes off his glasses and looks out his window. In the reflection he sees what looks like a young Aoi in the center of a ring of children playing the game Kagome, Kagome. He asks, “has Aoi grown up?” and chapter ends withe line, “who is that behind you?” from the game.

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Ghosts, illusions, tricks, and creepy children’s games made this volume an awesome Halloween read. There’s a short story at the end of the volume called “Child’s Play” about how Aoi first met Kasha and features the lyrics from a children’s game called Hana Ichi Monme which is kind of like red rover.

In the book the lyrics go: “I want that child. What child? Let’s talk about. Let’s do that. Happy to win. Sad to lose. Together forever.”

Creepy right?

Questions remain! Who’s Nachi? How does he know Aoi? Guess I’ll have to find out next volume!!