BookBrowse Reviews Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

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Son of a Witch

by Gregory Maguire

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 356 pages

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Return to Oz with the sequel to Gregory Maguire's Wicked.

From the book jacket: Ten years after the publication of Wicked, Gregory Maguire returns to the land of Oz. There he introduces us to Liir, an adolescent boy last seen hiding in the shadows of the castle after Dorothy did in the Witch. Bruised, comatose, and left for dead in a gully, Liir is shattered in spirit as well as in form. But he is tended at the Cloister of Saint Glinda by the silent novice called Candle, who wills him back to life with her musical gifts.

What dark force left Liir in this condition? Is he really Elphaba's son? He has her broom and her cape -- but what of her powers? Can he find his supposed half-sister, Nor, last seen in the forbidding prison, Southstairs? Can he fulfill the last wishes of a dying princess? In an Oz that, since the Wizard's departure, is under new and dangerous management, can Liir keep his head down long enough to grow up?

Comment: Son of a Witch opens ten years after the death of Elphaba Throbb, AKA the Wicked Witch of the West - the land of Oz is in turmoil, the Emerald City is in ruins and corruption is rife.  In alternate chapters Maguire tells the back story to Liir's life from the time of the witch's death when he was four, including his trek to the Emerald City with Dorothy et al; his search for his possible half-sister, Nor; and his time in the Munchkinland Army. 

Although some reviewers rave, such as Publishers Weekly, which gives it a starred review, a number seem to think that Son of a Witch is good, but not as memorable as Maguire's earlier book, Wicked (which inspired the long-running Broadway production of the same name).  For example, Katherine Powers, writing in The Washington Post thinks that "those for whom potty humor is the acme of wit and foul decay is horror sublime will be happy to know that Son of a Witch is as well-supplied with those articles as the earlier book was. What it has lost, however, is the shaping vigor gained by pushing against a well-known story"; and Kirkus Reviews thinks the book "works too hard to dazzle" and is "too long" but goes on to say that "few readers will fail to stay its magical course. Once again, the myth of Oz proves its enduring power."

This review was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the October 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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