Title: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Author: Gregory Maguire
Series: The Wicked Years #1
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
5th sentence, 74th page: We should leave the luxury of Munchkinland and try ourselves in the fire of a truly needy situation.
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her archnemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked?
Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West – a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
I didn’t know that the musical Wicked was based on a book. I didn’t know that the book would be so completely green. And when I found out these two facts, I bought it straight away. After all, I loved the play. And I love the colour green. And really, anything that is a little bit different and comments on the world from a point of view that isn’t what we generally think about is something that I’m going to want. I like tales that tell the story in shades of grey.
I love the message in this story. I love the way in which it comments on our own world. And I love the idea of telling a classic from another point of view, the villains. What I didn’t love was the pace of the story. The prologue completely drew me in. It was funny, pithy and threw you into the storyline. And then we went back in time. And we dealt with Elphaba’s family. And her upbringing. And then her time studying… and it just slowed right down. Not enough that I didn’t read the book, but enough that I struggled to read the book.
The fact that I struggled to read this, and it took me so long has left me with incredibly mixed feelings. On the one hand, I really liked the storyline and the message. On the other, I found it’s delivery a little bit slower and less captivating than I would like. But, I also understand why this is. Childhood histories and the growth of a character isn’t often something that can happen quickly, but it is certainly necessary to the characterisation… this is certainly a book that has left me on the fence, although it is one that will linger in my mind’s eye…
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