Summary and book reviews of Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

Son of a Witch

by Gregory Maguire

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

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Book Summary

Ten years after the publication of Wicked, Maguire returns to the land of Oz to follow the story of Liir, the adolescent boy left hiding in the shadows of the castle when Dorothy killed the witch.

Ten years after the publication of Wicked, beloved novelist Gregory Maguire returns at last 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?

For the countless fans who have been dazzled and entranced by Maguire's Oz, Son of a Witch is the rich reward they have awaited so long.

Chapter 1
The House of Saint Glinda


SO THE TALK OF RANDOM BRUTALITY wasn't just talk. At noontime they discovered the bodies of three young women, out on some mission of conversion that appeared to have gone awry. The novice maunts had been strangled by their ropes of holy beads, and their faces removed.

Her nerve being shaken at last, Oatsie Manglehand now caved in to the demands of her paying customers. She told the team drivers they'd pause only long enough to dig some shallow graves while the horses slaked their thirst. Then the caravan would press on across the scrubby flats known, for the failed farmsteads abandoned here and there, as the Disappointments.

Moving by night, at least they wouldn't make a sitting target, though they might as easily wander into trouble as sidestep it. Still, Oatsie's party was antsy. Hunker down all night and wait for horse hoofs, spears? Too hard on everyone. Oatsie consoled herself: If the caravan kept moving, she ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Katherine A. Powers

Though Wicked was not simply a reverse image of Baum's book or the famous movie, it depended on their depictions of Oz as a foil for its own maverick reshaping of the narrative. 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.

The New York Times Book Review - Sophie Harrison

Maguire clearly feels most comfortable when inventing freehand, and most of his novel is set after the original Oz story ends. Dorothy's presence in the text causes difficulties. She belongs too frankly in someone else's fairy tale; her arrival strains Maguire's own confident production in an unhappy way...Once he's freed himself from Baum's tenacious apron strings, Maguire begins to enjoy himself, and the story picks up.

People

Maguire's captivating, fully imagined world of horror and wonder illuminates the links between good and evil, retribution and forgiveness.

Kirkus Reviews

The book works too hard to dazzle us; it's considerably more cluttered and strained than Wicked.....but few readers will fail to stay its magical course. Once again, the myth of Oz proves its enduring power.

Publishers Weekly

Tucked into Maguire's enchanting fable are carefully calibrated object lessons in forgiveness, retribution, love, loss and the art of moving on despite tragic circumstances. Ten years after Wicked (which is still on Broadway), fans will once again be clicking their heels with wonderment.

Library Journal - Starr E. Smith

A tale that adroitly mixes drama, humor, and political satire into a well-knit examination of good and evil-and leaves several doors open for future journeys over the rainbow into this cleverly constructed dystopia.

Booklist - Paula Luedtke

This is no lightweight fairytale--entertaining, to be sure, but also complex and multilayered in plot and meaning, thought-provoking, and unforgettable.

Reader Reviews

Janey

Worth a read if you've read Wicked
I felt compelled to finish this book having enjoyed Wicked so much. Unfortunately the author seems more intent on getting across to the reader a lot of underlining meaning, emotion and politics which will go over the average readers head (as it did ...   Read More

Kimberlee

ehhhh
I enjoyed the book at first because it picked up exactly where it left off, but as I read on I started to become disappointed. I noticed that the pages were getting fewer and there wasn't much that was resolved. I was completely confused at the end ...   Read More

Toni

Did I just waste several days of my life?
Yes, I sure did. I had read Wicked and thought it was a fun, quick, interesting and original book to read. Son of a Witch on the other hand fell flat. I was expecting some climatic plot revelations but got nothing. There were no interesting story ...   Read More

Travis

What on earth happened?
I have to confess, I didn't love Wicked but I at least thought it was clever. Son of a Witch however, wow - just useless. It was like Maguire didn't even know what it was about. There were several throw away conflicts that were not the least bit ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Gregory Maguire is the author of a number of books including Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and Wicked, the basis for the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical; and  Leaping Beauty, a book of short stories for children. He has lectured on art and culture at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the DeCordova Museum as well as at conferences around the world. An occasional reviewer for the "New York Times Book Review" he lives ...

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