Son of a Witch

I read Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, a while back, and it changed my world. The politics of Oz – the complex, contrary, and convoluted characters – and the rather converse way of looking at Dorothy (and her little dog, too) were breathtaking. Elphaba – who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West – is not a particularly nice person, and not even always very sympathetic, but she is irresistible. Having read this, there is no way I would go and see the musical. I’m sure it’s very well done, and I hear that it manages to be quite complex, but… there is simply no way it could do the book justice.

Son of a Witch is the sequel. It follows Liir, who may or may not be Elphaba’s son, over about 10 years of his life. Again, it’s stunningly well written – Maguire has a beautiful way with words, quirky and yet apt descriptions that conjure up pictures effortlessly. (I think I’m going into raptures here… it really is that good, though.) Liir is a bizarre critter in many ways. Nothing about his childhood was conventional; with no real family history, he feels adrift and rootless in a world that is going through its own turmoils. I had to check the copyright page to see when this was written, and 2005 doesn’t surprise me; it feels very much like a book written in a world of Wars on Terror and all the attendant issues that the West has experienced over the last eight years or so. (I’m sure this sort of politics was written about before that, but I do think it’s had a huge impact on worldbuilding recently.) Again, Liir is not entirely sympathetic as a character. He does some dreadful things, and his willy-nilly-ness sometimes gets annoying. Nonetheless, he is compelling and engaging.

This is a brilliant book. I’m a bit sad there doesn’t appear to be a third, since the conclusion seems to leave it open; there’s another book set in Oz, but it focuses on the Cowardly Lion and I’m not sure I’m ready to read about Oz and not have it focus on Elphaba, just yet. (Instead I’ve bought Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, which I’m terribly excited about.) Even if you’re not a huge fan of the ‘fractured fairytale’ type of story, don’t be put off – I’ve not read the original Oz books, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. It’s about family, and politics, and finding your place, and living in history’s shadow, and taking responsibility… and did I mention that the writing is to swoon over?

3 responses

  1. o hello alex of shire australia
    i am pleased to be in your pressance as i am a lord of england.
    im am inspired by the thought of young ladys giving you chocolate and i thought i would try it.
    but the lady ran away. im afraid i dont look good in a dress.
    but i must be off i am going to canada for the weekend
    tata toodaloo
    your lovingly
    lord poms worth

  2. You again!

    Pity your comment doesn’t actually relate to what the post was about; come back when you’ve read a book or seen a movie that’s mentioned in the blog.


  3. alex, i just finished reading son of a witch and i googled it when i was done to see if i could find any writings on just how sad, tragic, unfinished this story is, and i came across your page. i agree that maguire needs to follow up SOAW with something to bring answers to the questions that i have. what happenned to the scrow? the yunamata? what, if anything, came of the yunamata’s brief yet important tribute to the dead princess nastoya? did liir ever find nor (alive or dead?) did candle ever come back, and what happenned to her? what about trism? cherrystone? what about the baby? he didnt even name her!!! and what of the elphaba lives writings, apparently by nor’s own hand? while i loved the book im not sure how i feel about all these loose ends. they simply scream sequel. i love maguire, he’s so sophisticated and versed that i can’t see him committing such a faux pas without some sort of motive. just the same, maybe the questions arent a bad thing. it keeps the reader thinking long past the end of the book, and leaves open the freedom to form our own endings. i loved, however, how you dont really know till the end of the book, the very last word “green” that liir could be descendant of elphaba. but just the same, melena (sp?) slept around on her husband, and that’s how little elphie wound up green. did liir father the baby, or is this some sort of sign that maybe liir’s not the dad? did history repeat itself? fascinating book, and great story. next im on to a lion among men, lost, and confessions of an ugly stepsister.

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