Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
Son of a Witch - Gregory Maguire, Douglas Smith Ten years ago, Gregory Maguire turned the familiar tale of The Wizard of Oz on its ear with Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The book, his first, became a best seller, then was adapted into a hit Broadway musical, Wicked. with Son of a Witch, Maguire returns to Oz, picking up where the story left off, with the death of Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West.::: Liir Takes the Broom :::Son of a Witch picks up Maguire's story after the death of Elphaba at Dorothy's hand. Liir, the boy who may or may not be her son; Chistery, the first flying monkey; and Nanny, Elphaba's former nanny, are all left in the castle that once belonged to Elphaba's lover, Fiyero. Liir feels that he has nothing left to stay for, and sets out into the world to accompany Dorothy and her companions back to the Emerald City, as well as search for his childhood playmate, Nor, the daughter of Fiyero. Nor had been taken prisoner by the Wizard's army years earlier, and Liir swears to himself that he will find her.On his journey, he encounters Princess Nastoya, the princess who is really an Elephant (the talking, human-like Animals like the Cowardly Lion) in disguise. She asks him for help removing the spell that keeps her disguised as a human so that she can die in her true form, believing that Liir may have some of Elphaba's magic talent or knowledge, especially since he has Elphaba's cape and broom. Of course, Liir is distracted several times from his goals, meeting up with Glinda, who is the new ruler of Oz after the Wizard leaves; and Shell, the younger brother of Elphaba and Nessarose (the Wicked Witch of the East).Much of the book is told in flashbacks, as we first meet up with a comatose Liir, rescued by the same guide who escorted him and Elphaba to Fiyero's castle so many years ago, and being nursed in the same mauntery (like a convent) where he and Elphaba lived. His nurse there was a novice named Candle, who played her instrument for him, guiding him through his memories.::: Just a Few Holes :::It's nearly impossible to condense one of Maguire's novels into a short summary for a review because the plot is so complicated and the cast of characters so enormous. As with Wicked, Maguire fills his novel with political intrigue, government secrets, surprise plot points, warring factions, and underground movements against authority. Fans of Wicked will feel that they are in familiar territory with Son of a Witch, and yet probably feel somewhat disappointed, because it is impossible to recreate the exact feeling of Wicked.Son of a Witch is still an excellent book, and you have to give Maguire credit for even attempting a sequel to a book that is so well loved. However, where Wicked glossed over time periods to focus on specific points that would have made Elphaba exactly who she was, the holes in Son of a Witch seem far more gaping, and leave the reader a bit confused in places. For example, no explanation is ever given for the Wizard's disappearance. Those familiar with the story of The Wizard of Oz will assume he just went home in his hot-air balloon, returning to the life he left behind. However, those who've read Wicked know that the Wizard reveled in his power, and it seems strange that he would vanish with no coup, no fanfare. There is also no explanation regarding Glinda's ascendancy to power, nor the reason she steps down and is succeeded by the Emperor.Son of a Witch will make any Wicked fan happy to return to the Oz that Maguire made so memorable, and the ending virtually assures the reader that Maguire will be back again. It's probably that no book could have measured up to the expectations for a sequel, but Son of a Witch is still an excellent read, provided that the reader has read Wicked first.This review previously published at Epinions:

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