The Wicked Will Rise brings us back to Danielle Paige’s re-imagined world of Oz
The sequel to Dorothy Must Die is almost at hand! As you may recall from the first book (*spoiler warning*), Kansas girl Amy Gumm is the heroine in this version. Set down in Oz in similar fashion as Dorothy, she is trained by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to assassinate Queen Dorothy, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen and Dorothy is still in control. In The Wicked Will Rise, we get to read about Amy and the new problems that come about in Oz after the failed plan. Nerdist got the exclusive excerpt from the book, which comes out March 31st!
Here’s some of the excerpt:
The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
I felt the magic in every pore of my skin, in every hair on the backs of my arms. I felt it in the
tips of my eyelashes. I was vibrating with it as the Lion came at me with a roar loud enough to
split the world right open.
It was too late for that.
He hurled himself at me in a lithe, powerful cannonball; he clawed and scratched and bit. He
wasn’t playing around now; there was no taunting and no banter as he hit me with a graceful,
animal fury that wouldn’t let up. But he couldn’t touch me.
When he had killed Star he had unleashed something in me that I hadn’t known was even in
there. Now the magic was flowing through me like a song and my body was moving to its
pulsing, thrumming beat.
I was everywhere at once. I was barely anywhere at all. With every move that he made, I was
ahead of him. It was like we were dancing.
I was spinning and dodging and somersaulting, thrusting and parrying, and every time the
Lion thought he had me, I found myself melting into the ground, only to rise back up a moment
later in the place he least expected to find me.
It was a different kind of teleportation than the kind I did when I blinked myself from one
place to the next. It was like I was entering a world of shadows. I wasn’t sure how I was doing it,
and I wasn’t sure where I was going when I disappeared like that—only that wherever it was, it
was cold and foreign and deadly silent. From down there, everything was hazy and slow-motion,
and I was outside reality, looking up into it from the darkness like gazing up through a layer of
black, muddy water.
I may not have known how I was doing it, but every time I rose back up, reshaping myself
into my own form, I knew what I was doing when I was under there. I was touching the
If I’d had time to think about it, it probably would have frightened me. Somehow, I knew
instinctively that I was tapping into some of the blackest kind of magic. Everywhere I slashed
and stabbed, my knife left a thick, inky trail behind it. It looked like I was cutting a hole in the
atmosphere, and what was on the other side was nothing.
We went on like that for a while. I could tell that the Lion was tiring out. We weren’t dancing
together anymore. I was dancing, but him? He was just going to die.
It was pathetic, really, but I didn’t feel sorry for him. Actually, I was having fun. I’d found
something in Oz I was good at.
Finally, he gave one last valiant effort and sprang up, grabbed a tree branch and swung,
barreling down at me feetfirst. I didn’t bother dodging. I melted into nothing and rematerialized
behind him, wondering how it was that this kind of magic was suddenly coming so easily to me.
The Lion was still scooping himself up from where he had fallen, and I let him flail for a
moment in confusion before I swept my leg around in a roundhouse kick that met his face with
the satisfying crunch of shattering teeth.
I plunged my knife into his side and a web of inky lines spidered across the surface of his
golden, tawny muscles like I was injecting him with poison.
Well, maybe I was.
I twisted my blade. The Lion screamed, collapsing. He had all but surrendered now, but I
wasn’t done yet. As he lay there howling in pain, I jumped up and found myself moving almost
in slow motion, suspended in the air for a moment before I pushed myself forward and launched
myself straight for him, sinking my knife into the roof of his gaping mouth, a geyser of blood
This time he didn’t bother screaming.
I tossed the knife aside, letting it disappear to wherever it went when I wasn’t holding it. But
this time, when I drew my hand back, I pulled a long, dark tendril with it—a black, twisting
skein of nothingness.
It was like a tentacle, like an extension of myself. All I had to do was think about it and the
blackness twisted out through the air like a snake slithering through the grass. It wrapped itself
around the Lion’s neck.
The Lion clutched at his throat, gasping and trying to free himself.
All I had to do was want it, and the noose tightened.
“Beg me,” I said. The words hung in the air, dripping with venom. It barely sounded like me.
If I was a character in a comic book, my dialogue would have been inked in thick, jagged letters.
This couldn’t be me—could it? I knew what I had to do, but there was no reason to be so cruel
I felt half possessed when I said it again. “Beg me,” I repeated, with even more cruelty this
time, as the Lion tried to open his mouth.
His eyes widened, but he was barely struggling anymore; he was using everything he had left
just to stay alive.
“Never,” was all he managed to say.
My knife had returned to me, and when I looked down at it, I saw that its blackness was
seeping out of it and up my arm, like I was wearing a glove made of tar. My fist was gripping the
hilt so tight that it hurt. It was twitching.
Cut him, I heard a voice in the back of my head telling me. Punish him for everything he’s
I wanted to do it. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself slicing him open. His stomach. His throat.
Like I was watching a movie, I saw myself stabbing wherever I could, not paying attention to
where I was striking, just hacking away as he convulsed and moaned, his hot, sticky blood
squirting out in every direction while I kept going.
It was just my imagination. But I wanted it to be real. And it could be real. All I had to do
was do it.
But then I heard another voice—a real voice this time, not in my head, but from somewhere
outside of me. It was soft and lilting, barely more than a whisper.
It was Ozma.
“Come back,” she said simply.
With her, you never quite knew if she meant anything by it at all. I couldn’t even be sure that
she was talking to me. But something about the way she said it brought me down to Earth, and
when I turned to her, I saw that she had dropped her bubble of protection and was now standing
just a few feet away. Her bright eyes were fixed on me plaintively, with a look of deep, almost
That’s when I realized that I wasn’t fighting the Lion to punish him. As much as I wanted to
let my revenge fantasies play out, I had to remember that there was a larger purpose to
everything I was doing. As much as I wanted to kill him—my body was still screaming out for
his blood—I knew it wasn’t that simple. I needed something from him.
It all came flooding like a dream you’ve forgotten until something jogs your memory.
The Tin Woodman’s heart. The Lion’s courage. The Scarecrow’s brains.
With the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow it was obvious. Heart and brains. Duh. But where
does a Lion keep his courage?
I looked at him lying there in battered, bloody defeat, toothless and bruised, his mangled tail
twitching, the sad little ribbon at the end of it soaked with blood, and then I noticed that there
was something strange about it. The tail. It wasn’t glowing, exactly, but it had something like a
halo around it. A jittery, golden aura so pale that it barely registered.
It made me take a closer look.
I don’t know how I’d missed it before, but now I saw it. The tail wasn’t even real. It was
stuffed and synthetic and made from felt and stuffing, like something that belonged to a doll. At
the base, I could see that it was sewn onto the Lion’s body in a sloppy cross-stitch. This wasn’t
the tail that he had been born with. Of course: the Wizard had given it to him.
Read the rest and download it at Nerdist.