There’s no place like home. You can’t hear that sentence without thinking of The Wizard of Oz. But one of the things I never quite understood about that classic tale was Dorothy’s urgency to leave Oz, a magical place where she had friends, and go back home to Kansas. It’s one of the reasons I wrote Dorothy Must Die, an Oz retelling where Dorothy takes a bit of a dark turn and “no place like home” becomes “no place like Oz.”
I love books and movies that take you through the proverbial looking glass—seeing another world through the perspective of someone just like you makes the experience even more visceral. You get to experience the wonder through the eyes of the protagonist who has never stepped onto the Yellow Brick Road, or dropped down the rabbit hole, or stepped into the wardrobe…
As a writer, I love comparing worlds. Fantasy worlds may have witches, magic, and talking bunnies who are late for important dates, but they also have “real world” problems that are not so far from our reality. Fantasy investigates everything from war to love to bullying. And inevitably, there are things left behind in the real world that catch up to the characters in the new one. My protagonist Amy leaves a difficult relationship with her mother behind that continues to inform her interactions in Oz.
I may be a little biased, but I still think that Dorothy’s entry into Oz may be one of the best to ever be put on the page. Not only did Dorothy’s house land in a new world via tornado, but it landed on a Wicked Witch and set Dorothy off on her legendary journey down the Yellow Brick Road. As for my series, I created Amy Gumm, a modern tough girl who gets to Oz when her trailer is picked up by a tornado as well. But Amy faces a very different Oz than the original Dorothy Gale, complete with a now-evil Dorothy that Amy has to fight, most likely to the death. In the upcoming third book, Yellow Brick War, Amy still faces the decision of which world she belongs in. I cannot wait for you all to see where she ends up.
Here are a few other works that I love with “portals” to other worlds:
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Schwab gives us not one, but infinite Londons. It’s the Sliding Doors of my dreams, with magic and fighting and romance and princes. Kell is one of the last travelers, charged with traveling between each London as a messenger, but he is secretly a smuggler as well. When he encounters thief Lila, she steals from him literally and figuratively—steals his heart, of course! The book makes me jealous for not having written it, and thrilled for getting to read it.
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Howard tells the story of Alice’s daughter, Alyssa Gardener, who grew up believing her mother was crazy, until her mother takes a turn for the worse and Alyssa must take her own trip through the looking glass. There she finds a terrifying Mad Hatter and a whole cast of familiar characters beautifully twisted by Howard’s prose. Alyssa’s crush and bestie Jeb follows her to Wonderland, and Alyssa must figure out who to trust as she learns that her mother was right all along.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Even after all these years, I still love these books. Meeting the White Witch, the Lion, and Pan as a kid left me wanting more of the fantasy genre. It was, and still is, absolutely fascinating watching the children grow up and have to decide which side of the wardrobe they belong to.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Raised by otherworldly creatures, artist Karou travels between worlds and finds herself in the middle of a war between devils and angels. As Karou discovers her true identity, a gorgeous angel saves her and changes the course of both their worlds. The world-building and beauty of Taylor’s words make this one of my favorite series.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
When ex-Army nurse Claire steps back in time, she leaves behind sexy ex-MI16 husband Frank only to find love again in Jamie and the Scots. It’s romantic, complicated, and sexy. I can’t get enough of it!
Danielle Paige is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dorothy Must Die series—the third volume, Yellow Brick War, is available now from HarperCollins. Stealing Snow, available Fall 2016 from Bloomsbury, begins another series that straddles the real world and the fantasy one. Before turning to young adult literature, she worked in television industry where she received a Writers Guild of America award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. Danielle lives in New York City.