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See the trailer for Danielle Paige's The End of Oz -- and read an excerpt

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Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series is finally coming to a close with The End of Ozout March 14. When last we saw her, Amy Gumm had finally defeated Dorothy, and she and the last remaining members of Revolutionary Order of the Wicked were gearing up to rebuild Oz. But they’re shocked to find out that one of their own has betrayed them — and they might not have had the successful victory over Dorothy they thought they did.

EW is excited to reveal the trailer for The End of Oz, along with an exclusive sneak peek at the first two chapters. Check them out, below:

Excerpt from The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

One

The first time I flew, it was under very different circumstances. That time, my trailer had been picked up by a tornado from Flat Hill, Kansas, and dropped into the middle of Oz. Now I was being hoisted up into the sky by a flying Road of Yellow Brick with Nox and my old-enemy-turned-new-friend Madison Pendleton, zipping away from a battle with the Nome King, who’d showed up unexpectedly when Glamora turned out to actually be (mostly) her evil twin sister Glinda, and had opened a portal back to Kansas. The Nome King wanted to take over all of Oz, and to do it he apparently needed my shoes, which were originally Dorothy’s shoes, and which, as far as I knew, weren’t turning me evil the way Dorothy’s second pair of shoes transformed her into a super-evil bloodthirsty homicidal tyrant.

Okay, so it’s kind of complicated. Like, really complicated. Believe me, I know. I’m living it. And right now, Nox, Madison, and I were being carried to who even knows where by the Road of Yellow Brick, which apparently is sort of . . . sentient.

Below us, the fields and villages of Oz were a moonlit patchwork quilt of silvery green and gold. In the far distance, I could see the snowcapped peaks of the Traveling Mountains. And beyond that, I could almost glimpse the sandy dunes of the Deadly Desert.

The air was cool and we were moving fast, but I didn’t feel cold. Just tired, and hungry, and worried about what we’d left behind. Mombi’s death. The chaos after Ozma’s coronation. The Nome King. And Glinda . . .

But all of that stuff was currently my secondary concern. My primary concern was Madison, who was screaming her head off as the road hurtled forward into the night.

“What the fuck was that?” Madison yelled.

“Which part?”

She stared at me, her eyes wild. “Where’s my kid? What did Assistant Principal Strachan just turn into? Where are we? Who’s that?” She pointed at Nox.

“I’m Nox,” Nox said unhelpfully. He yawned and carefully sat down, stretching his legs and holding on to the yellow bricks.

“Is he kidding?” Madison whirled toward me, almost losing her balance on the narrow road. “We’re, like, flying? On some bricks? I don’t know if you noticed but that’s not possible? Where is my kid?”

“I think Dustin Jr. is safe,” I said, picking the easiest question out of her barrage. At least she’d stopped screaming.

“You think?”

“His dad caught him,” I said. “I’m sure he’s fine. And the Nome King is here now. So, um, Kansas is definitely, totally safe.”

“What do you mean, here? Where is here? WHY ARE WE FLYING?”

“You’re not going to believe me,” I said, “but we’re in Oz.”

She stared at me. “That’s . . . super not funny, Amy. And what kind of name is Nox?”

Nox smiled. “What kind of name is Madison?” he echoed.

“I’m not joking about the Oz thing,” I interrupted hastily. Madison was looking at Nox sort of like she wanted to eat him. Or murder him. I knew the feeling.

Madison looked around. She looked up. She looked down at the landscape flying by beneath us. She looked like she wanted to start screaming again but was carefully reconsidering wasting that much energy.

She took a deep breath. “Okay, Amy. Cut it. Seriously, what’s going on?”

“You’re in Oz,” Nox said curtly. Madison looked back and forth between the two of us.

“Madison, you’re on a flying road,” I pointed out. “I know it sounds totally crazy, but Oz is real, and you’re in it.”

Madison sat down abruptly with a thump. A brick jolted loose from the road and tumbled away. “Careful,” I said sharply. “We have no idea if this thing will actually hold together.”

She watched the brick fall until we could no longer see it. She looked around: at the pointy silver stars as they flew by, at a hooting night owl as it floated past, staring at us in startled confusion, at the ground far below. She patted the road as if checking whether it was real. And then she pinched herself.

“You’re not dreaming,” I said gently, sitting down next to her.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I felt like this the first time I came here, too.”

“Like the Scarecrow and the Lion and Emerald City and Munchkins and all of that shit? It’s real?”

“Yeah,” I said. “The Scarecrow and the Lion are dead, though.”

She blinked. “Dorothy? Toto?”

“Dorothy is definitely real,” Nox said darkly. “Way too real, if you ask me.”

“Toto’s actually dead, too,” I clarified. “He turned into this giant, super-evil monster Toto, and I killed him, and then for a while there were these, like, zombie Toto reproductions? But they . . .”

I trailed off, catching sight of the expression on Mad’s face. “Uh, anyway, I don’t think we have to worry about them anymore.”

“Your research project,” Madison said abruptly. “Your whole thing with the archive at the high school. You were—you were serious. You thought all that stuff was real.” She looked down at the countryside flying by below us and swallowed hard. “When you disappeared after the tornado,” she said slowly. “You were . . . here?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I had just as much trouble believing it was real at first, too. I mean, it sounds ridiculous. A tornado picked up my mom’s trailer and dumped me here?”

I thought suddenly of Star, my mom’s beloved pet rat. Like a lot of other people and things I cared about, she hadn’t made it. But she’d been the only thing that kept me going through the early days in Oz—the only connection I had to the world I’d left behind, and the one thing letting me know I wasn’t crazy, that what was happening to me was real. Madison had nothing like that. Nothing, anyway, except me.

“It’s all crazy, I know. The thing is that Dorothy is—was—actually evil. I mean, Dorothy’s dead now, too. But the fight isn’t over. We still have to clean up the mess she left behind.”

“Is anyone not dead? You know what, don’t answer that,” Madison said. “Okay, so let’s say theoretically we’re in Oz and I believe you. How do we get home?”

Nox and I exchanged glances. “I don’t know,” I said.

“You did it before,” Madison said expectantly. “You came back to high school.” She frowned. “You were here and you went back to Flat Hill? What were you thinking?”

“It’s really, really complicated,” I said. “I went back when the Wizard opened this portal—”

“The Wizard? Like, the actual Wizard of Oz?”

“Yeah, but he’s dead, too,” Nox said quietly.

Madison looked at both of us again. She was silent for a minute. And then she started to laugh. She laughed so hard she bent over, propping herself up on her hands. I couldn’t help it. I started laughing, too. Nox rolled his eyes. Finally Madison sat up, still giggling, and wiped tears from her eyes.

“Okay, I tell you what,” she said. “Why don’t you start at the beginning, and then we’ll take it from there.”

 

Two

It took a long time to tell Madison the entire history of me and Oz. No surprise there, considering how much had happened. Just saying it out loud to someone who wasn’t from Oz, who had no idea what passed for normal here, made me realize just how insane the last few months of my life had been.

And talking about Oz made me realize how much I’d missed it. Back in Kansas, I’d resigned myself to never being able to return to Oz. I almost—almost—thought I might know what Dorothy felt like when she had to go back home—and why she’d wanted so badly to return to Oz. But that was where the similarity stopped. Dorothy was a killer and I wasn’t.

Well, not unless I had to be.

Madison tucked her long blond hair behind her ears in a futile effort to keep it out of her face, but the breeze fluttered at the long strands, sending them flying behind her like streamers. I thought about plucking one of Oz’s stars out of the sky to show to her, but she was freaked out enough already. Oz’s weirder wonders could wait.

“So you were in a prison? And some magic dude just showed up? And then a witch appeared?” Madison interrupted my reverie, impatiently waiting for me to finish my story.

“More like a dungeon. The witch was Mombi.” I glanced over at Nox, wondering what he was feeling. I was almost certain Mombi was dead, killed by Glamora and the Nome King as she tried to protect us. I had complicated feelings about the old witch—half the time, she’d felt more like my enemy than my friend, and despite all we’d been through together, we’d never been close. Out of all the witches, she’d made it very clear that just because she was formerly Wicked, she didn’t consider herself Good. She was gruff and rude and sometimes her words hurt as much as the purple webs she could spin and squeeze around you. But those same qualities made her possibly the fiercest fighter in the Order, so her loss was huge if we were going to right everything that had just gone wrong in Oz. More importantly, she’d raised Nox. If my feelings about her were tangled, his had to be a labyrinth. I moved on quickly to the rest of my story.

In a strange way, it was a relief to talk to someone from the real world—my world—about what I’d been through. Nox understood so much about me, but he was from Oz. To him, learning magic and fighting monsters was just a part of life. Being able to tell someone from Kansas what had happened in Oz felt totally different.

“And then I went back to the Emerald City to fight Dorothy once and for all,” I continued. “But the Wizard was there, too, controlling Dorothy. He was crazy—he wanted to merge Oz and Kansas, he thought they were the same place.”

Madison snorted softly.

“Well, in a way they are the same place,” I amended. “Oz is kind of like—it’s like another dimension, laid over the world that we know, if that makes sense. Kansas and Oz overlap. But he was going to destroy them both with his spell. And then his hold over Dorothy broke, and she killed him, and suddenly I wasn’t in Oz anymore, I was back in Kansas, stuck there with Gert and Mombi and Glamora with no way to get home—”

I stopped, aware of what I’d just said. Home. Was that how I thought of Oz now? What about my mom?

“And then you decided to go back to high school?” Madison prompted, her voice skeptical.

“The witches thought Dorothy’s original shoes were somewhere in Flat Hill,” I explained. “The ones that took her home the first time she came to Oz.”

“That whole thing where you were trying to prove Dorothy was real—that was just a cover for you trying to find some enchanted doodad and get back here?”

“Exactly. And I did find the shoes, in the high school—just where the witches thought they’d be. The shoes brought us all back to Oz. Glinda was moving against the Order without Dorothy—we fought her and thought we’d defeated her, but actually she had just taken over her twin sister’s body—”

“Are you serious?” Madison asked in disbelief.

“I know it sounds super-weird. But I’m telling you, things work differently here.” I told her about the final battle beneath the Emerald Palace, when I’d defeated Dorothy at last but been unable to kill her. How Nox and I had left her there to die as the palace crumbled around us.

“Whoa,” Madison said softly. “That’s pretty cold.”

Nox looked at her, his eyes narrowing. “Are you listening to anything Amy’s telling you? About how evil Dorothy is? She tortured people to death, Madison. She murdered whole families, whole towns. She—”

“Nox, it’s okay,” I said gently. “It’s just a lot to take in all at once. Remember, it took me a long time to get used to killing people, too. And I’m still not sure it’s a good thing I did.”

“How did you know Dorothy was dead?” Madison asked. “If you just left her there?”

“She looked pretty dead to me,” Nox muttered.

“Wait a minute,” Madison said, realizing what I’d just said. “You’ve killed people? Like . . . not just by accident?”

“Yeah,” I said. I couldn’t meet her eyes.

“Wow,” she said. “Okay. Um, am I going to have to kill people? And you still haven’t answered my question. How do I get home? How do I get back to my kid? No offense, but this place isn’t really my style.” She looked around again, and I peered over the side of the road. The landscape below us was completely unfamiliar—sparse, leafless trees sprouted out of the hard, moonlit ground. Little else grew. I could see a few ratlike animals scurrying for cover as the road flew by overhead.

“The Witch’s Wastelands,” Nox said, in answer to my unspoken question. “No one I know has been this close to the edge of Oz.”

“Amy,” Mad prompted. “I don’t need a geography lesson.”

I didn’t know how to tell her that the questions she’d asked were impossible to answer. So instead, I settled for telling the last part of my story as if she hadn’t asked.

“We thought we’d finally saved Oz when Dorothy died,” I said. “But when the Nome King showed up—that’s the guy who took over Assistant Principal Strachan’s body—”

“How many villains are there in this stupid world?” Madison asked in disbelief.

“Tell me about it,” Nox said.

“Everybody’s Wicked,” I said. “Here, I mean. Good means Wicked, and Wicked means Good . . .” Madison was staring at me as if I’d started speaking Sanskrit.

“Like I said, it’s complicated,” I amended. “We don’t know what the Nome King wants, exactly. He definitely wants these.”

I pointed to my feet, where Dorothy’s shoes, which had turned into sparkly combat boots that fit me perfectly, still glittered.

“And he wants to kill me, too?”

“I don’t think that was personal,” Nox said. “He wanted to get to Amy. He didn’t care about you.”

Madison rolled her eyes. “Fine. So I’m not special. Amy’s the Chosen One, or whatever. Ames, I’m really starting to like you, but this story is bonkers. And, spoiler alert, whatever’s going on here is not my problem. So why don’t you send me back to Kansas with your little spell or whatever and we’ll call it even. I’ll tell your mom—well, I’ll tell her whatever you want. I’ll tell her you’re coming home soon if you want me to. But I want to get back to my kid, and my ex-boyfriend, and my life.”

“We can’t,” Nox said. “Amy already told you. We don’t know how.”

“I know it’s all . . . a lot,” I said.

Madison sighed. “So the only way for me to get home is to find out where this stupid road is carrying us, take out the demonic dude who possessed Assistant Principal Strachan, help you kill the Good Witch of the South, and figure out a spell that nobody knows yet?” she asked.

“Basically,” I said apologetically.

“Fine, sign me up,” Madison said briskly. “Do I get to learn magic, too?”

“You can’t,” Nox said. “Oz’s magic corrupts people from your world who use it.”

“For some reason, Dorothy’s shoes let me use magic again,” I explained. “But before I found them, things got . . . bad.”

Madison huffed. “I don’t believe this crap. All right, fine. At least teach me how to use a knife or something. Sword? Bow and arrow? Battle-ax?”

“That’s The Lord of the Rings,” I said. “Different book. And only dwarves use those.”

“You are such a freak,” Madison said.

“Takes one to know one,” I said.

But we were both smiling.

“Look,” Nox said suddenly, pointing over the edge of the road. “I think we’re flying over the Deadly Desert.”

We crowded next to him, staring down at the vista below us. Madison and I both gasped aloud. I’d assumed that the Deadly Desert was an empty, desolate wasteland. I’d been completely, totally wrong.

At the far edge of the horizon, the sky was lightening with the coming dawn. And far below, the faint illumination hinted at the extraordinary place we were flying over. Huge dunes of multicolored sand stretched as far as I could see in either direction. Directly below us was a cobalt-blue wave of sand. The dune next to it was crimson red, and the one after that a bright, saffron-tinted yellow.

I saw dunes of apple green, sky blue, velvety purple, and brilliant turquoise. Streams of gold, silver, and black sand separated each of the dunes so that the whole landscape was a brilliant, colorful patchwork.

“Sand sailors!” Nox exclaimed. I followed his finger and gasped again, this time in delight.

Far below us, jewel-colored lizards with huge, parachute-like wings drifted over the dunes, their tiny scales reflecting the rising sun in fiery, incandescent streaks of color.

“It’s beautiful,” Madison breathed.

For a moment, the precariousness of our situation fell away, and her face was suffused with wonder. I felt a weird sense of pride, as if I was somehow responsible for showing off the wonders of Oz. As if I was trying, in some way, to convince her to stay.

“It’s gorgeous,” Nox agreed. “But as far as anyone in Oz knows, it’s lethal. It’s impossible to cross on foot. The dunes are constantly shifting, and they swallow anyone who attempts it. No one’s ever tried to navigate the Deadly Desert and survived. Not without magic, anyway.”

“The Wizard did it,” I said, remembering the original story. “Didn’t he? In his hot air balloon? And the fairies, way back in the day.”

“So did Dorothy,” Nox said darkly.

So that part was true, too. I wished I’d thought to pick up the complete set of Wizard of Oz books back in Kansas. They might have helped solve a few problems. I’d been too busy trying to find the shoes hidden in my high school. But the Dorothy of those books was nothing like the Dorothy I knew.

I thought again about Madison’s question. How did we know she was dead?

Nox and I both knew how tough Dorothy was—and how hard she was to kill. We’d left her behind when the Emerald Palace collapsed. Was it possible she didn’t actually die down there?

No way, I thought to myself. Nox is right. The whole palace came down on top of her. She’s dead.

She had to be. Because the way Oz villains kept popping up like new heads in a whack-a-mole game, we didn’t have time to kill her again if she wasn’t.

As the sun rose in the sky, the landscape below us grew even more dazzling. Soon the hot morning light beat down on our shoulders. Without shade or shelter, our flight became uncomfortably warm.

Madison pulled off her pink, bedazzled sweatshirt and draped it over her head to ward off the sun. I sweated miserably in the soft gray dress I’d worn to Ozma’s coronation. Already, that seemed like a lifetime ago—but it was only yesterday that I’d thought everything was right in Oz again. How quickly things could change here.

“Look, sandworms,” Nox said, pointing again.

Huge, dust-covered worms slid through the sand, lunging upward to chomp down on sand sailors with creepy fang-filled mouths that opened like wounds.

“They can grow as tall as the Emerald Palace,” he added helpfully.

Madison was looking a little pale; neither one of us was very interested in Nox’s nature lesson.

“Uh, guys? Is it just me, or are we sinking?” Madison’s voice was strained.

“She’s right,” Nox said. And she was.

The road was unmistakably slowing down. And it was sinking.

Toward the desert—and the huge, yawning mouths of the sandworms.

“God, this place sucks,” Madison muttered under her breath.

“We’ll be fine,” I said with a confidence I didn’t feel.

The road was bucking and twisting as it lurched downward. I squatted down before it could toss me off, clutching tightly to its golden bricks. Madison was clinging tight, too, looking a little green.

“Look! Land!” Nox said, standing up so suddenly he was almost thrown off the writhing road.

I grabbed his ankles as an upheaval nearly sent him over the side. Past the multicolored dunes, I could see what he meant—an expanse of drab, bleak landscape, hilly and worn-down looking, that was a sharp contrast to the bright and lethal Deadly Desert.

But we were falling fast. If we crashed before we made it to the hills, either the sandworms would finish us or the desert itself would.

The worms seemed to sense our predicament and gathered beneath the road, yawning and snapping their huge teeth. Madison’s knuckles were white where she gripped the road and her face was tense with fear, but she didn’t say anything.

I felt my boots throb almost reassuringly, but when I reached within myself for my magic, it felt far away, as if I were trying to reach it through a wall of Jell-O. I closed my eyes, trying to summon something. Anything. The barest scrap of magic to keep us safe.

I opened my eyes and saw Nox looking at me. I shook my head. “Nothing,” I said. “I can’t do anything.” From his expression, I knew he’d been trying, too.

“We have to trust the road,” he said quietly.

Before I could reply, the road plunged suddenly downward.

Madison screamed in terror. The desert was hurtling toward us at a terrifying speed. The worms were just waiting for us to drop within reach of their serrated teeth.

“Amy! Madison! Get up! Run!” Nox yelled, pulling us to our feet.

Instantly, I saw what he meant. There was still a length of road in front of us, and we were almost all the way across the desert. The three of us staggered forward, tripping and stumbling as the road bucked wildly beneath us. I half pulled, half carried Madison forward. Where the desert ended, I could see hard, rocky ground that the sandworms couldn’t move through.

But we had to get there first. And it was a long way to safety.

“We’re going to have to jump!” Nox shouted.

Solid ground seemed impossibly far. Madison’s mouth was moving in a silent prayer—or, knowing her, a curse—but her face was set with determination.

Madison wasn’t exactly athletic—I’d never seen her lift anything heavier than a shopping bag until she started carting around Dustin, Jr. She took a deep breath, eyed the gap, and jumped.

The nearest of the worms lunged for her—but somehow, impossibly, she cleared the distance, hitting the ground past the edge of the desert and dropping into a roll worthy of an Order trainee. In a flash, she was on her feet and running. The worm turned to us.

“Go!” Nox yelled. “Amy, we have to go, now!”

The road was breaking apart even as I got my footing. Bricks tumbled to the ground, sinking into the shifting sand and swallowed immediately. Nox grabbed my hand and we jumped.

I hit the ground with a thud that knocked the wind out of my lungs. A worm’s teeth snapped shut inches from my foot. I rolled out of its way and somersaulted to my feet, grabbing Nox’s shoulder and pulling him to safety. The huge worm bellowed in disappointment as both of us took off running after Madison.

But we slowed down as soon as we realized the worms couldn’t pursue us on the rocky soil. Madison and I were panting and out of breath, but Nox had barely broken a sweat. Sometimes he drove me nuts. I’d worked my ass off to become as strong as I was, but I still did normal, human things like get sweaty and winded. Nox made even the most impossible feat look easy. It was alternately infuriating and sexy.

He looked up at the sky, where the remains of the road were rising quickly away from us. Crumbling bricks thudded here and there into the swirling sands of the desert, sinking out of sight immediately into the fluid sand.

“Ugh,” Madison said. “Rude.” She glared at the last of the Road of Yellow Brick as it dwindled to a speck on the horizon.

“I don’t understand why it took us this far and then just dumped us,” I said. “And what happened back there? What went wrong with our magic? Where are we?”

Nox was looking at his fingers, wiggling them experimentally. “I think the road is bound to Oz,” he said slowly. “It wanted to help us, for whatever reason, and so it took us as far as it could.”

“Took us where, though? Is this some part of the mountains? Why couldn’t it go any farther?”

Nox shook his head. “Amy, I think the road took us all the way across the desert. That’s why our magic isn’t working. That’s why the road collapsed.”

“You’re saying we aren’t in Oz anymore,” I said slowly.

He nodded. “We crossed the entire desert. That means we’re in Ev. The Nome King’s kingdom. I didn’t even believe it was real.” He snorted softly. “Then again, the Nome King was supposed to be a legend, too.”

Ev. The word stirred something in my memory. Something important.

Had Lurline told me about Ev? About the Nome King, and what he wanted?

But whatever the memory was, it was gone.

“I still don’t understand what that has to do with our magic,” I said. “Or why the road would dump us here.” I looked around. “We tried to defeat the Nome King in Oz, but he was too powerful. Maybe there’s nothing in Oz that can stop him, and that’s why the road brought us here,” I said thoughtfully. “Maybe Ev’s magic is different somehow? Or there’s something here we can use to defeat the Nome King?”

“If Ev’s magic is different, that would explain why we’re having trouble using ours,” Nox agreed. “And the road doesn’t do anything without a reason. But as far as we know, the Nome King isn’t here. The last time we saw him was in Oz.”

I sighed. It was a lot to figure out. But there had to be a reason we were here. And if the Nome King was from Ev, that had to be a part of it. It would make sense if the road had brought us here to discover a weapon we could use against him.

“They don’t have, like, treasure maps in Oz, do they?” Madison asked. “You know, ‘This way to enchanted object that kills evil sorcerer, gets everybody home to safety’ type maps?”

Nox rolled his eyes at Madison.

“My magic comes from Oz,” Nox said. “I think that’s why it’s so hard to reach here. Ev must have a different kind of power. The shoes are part of Oz, too. But your magic . . .”

He didn’t finish, but I knew what he was thinking. My magic was part Oz, part me. And I was from the Other Place. Which meant that maybe, just maybe, I could find a way to make my own magic work here. If I could somehow bypass the Oz parts—if that was even possible—I could tap directly into the magic that came from me.

But if I tried to access it without the shoes, it might also just kill me.

“Why is this place ugly as hell?” Madison asked, looking around. “I thought there were supposed to be, like, singing Muppets or something.”

“Munchkins,” I said automatically.

Madison was right. If this was Ev, it was a total dump. Dorothy had been draining the magic out of Oz for awhile. The trees had stopped talking and the river was running in reverse. But there was still some magic and color left in Oz.

In Ev it was as if there had never been any color or magic. The landscape was bleak and twisted. The blackened, winding path that stretched away from us was like the Road of Yellow Brick’s evil twin sister. In the distance, dilapidated shacks dotted the horizon like scabs. There was nothing green and growing. No water. No sign of life. No flowers.

“If we’re in Ev, the road brought us here for a reason,” Nox began. “Maybe Amy’s right and there’s a—”

But he didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. Because right then the Wheelers came.

 

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