Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Posted June 11, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the WestWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Series: Wicked Years, 1
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First in the Wicked fantasy series that will set all you thought you knew about Oz on its head.

My Take
It’s all politics and power dressed up with bigotry and insecurity. Maguire did an amazing job of creating a wicked, nasty world that blends what we know about Oz and our own memories of The Wizard of Oz with a political reality of our own world.

His sympathetic depiction of Elphaba whom we know as the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West is sweet and he tempers it with the righteous zeal of youthful naiveté. It’s difficult to see how Elphie could have turned out any different—it’s more amazing that she turned out as kind as she did. I certainly have taken a step back from Glinda…whoa. And it makes such sense. And we finally learn more about the Wicked Witch of the East! And those ruby slippers.

Maguire manipulates the psychological makeup of human nature and he’s blended this so well with the characters we remember from Oz that his version seems more “real” to me than Frank L. Baum’s—Wicked is the adult version while Baum’s is a bedtime story for littles.

The Main Characters
Elphaba is the oldest daughter of Frex, a Unionist preacher-cum-missionary and his free-lovin’ wife Melena, the heir to the Third Thropp Descending. Turns out Melena ain’t the only one spreadin’ it around either. Nessarose is their second daughter. A daughter Frex thought was of his own mind religion-wise, only Nessa took it several steps too far…well, it was those shoes, don’t’cha know. Nanny was Melena’s caretaker and she loves to moan and groan her way into everyone’s lives. Turtle Heart is a glassblower and a Quadling who revolves around their lives in the early days.

Galinda is of minor nobility from Gillikin with delusions of grandeur. Delusions which come true when she weds quite well. But the G’linda we thought we knew is much more concerned with appearances and the status quo than anything else. I loved how Maguire explained Billie Burke’s high-pitched voice!

Mistress Morrible is the headmistress of Crage Hall where Elphaba, Glinda, and Nessarose attend boarding school. Seems there is a lot more than overseeing girl students under the Morrible hood. It’s Fiyero, the prince of the Vinkus, who leads Elphie to Kiamo Ko and seals the fate of his family.

The Wizard. The entire story revolves around him and he is indeed a man “lost” from our world having arrived in his own hot air balloon. There the resemblance ends.

What about Dorothy, the Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow, you ask…? They’re there, both what you expect and not.

The Cover
Green, black, and white and how very appropriate considering Elphaba’s green nature. Love that smirk on her face! I’m guessing the figure in white is Glinda.

Wicked is as wicked does and it isn’t anything like you may expect.

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