An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.
Following the traditions of Gabriel Garca Marquz, John Gardner and J.R.R. Tolkien, Wicked
is a richly woven tale that takes us to the other, darker side of the rainbow as novelist Gregory Maguire chronicles the Wicked Witch of the West's odyssey through the complex world of Oz -- where people call you wicked if you tell the truth.
Years before Dorothy and her dog crash-land, another little girl makes her presence known in Oz. This girl, Elphaba, is born with emerald-green skin -- no easy burden in a land as mean and poor as Oz, where superstition and magic are not strong enough to explain or to overcome the natural disasters of flood and famine. But Elphaba is smart, and by the time she enters the university in Shiz, she becomes a member of a charmed circle of Oz' most promising young citizens.
Elphaba's Oz is no utopia. The Wizard's secret police are everywhere. Animals -- those creatures with voices, souls and minds -- are threatened with exile. Young Elphaba, green and wild and misunderstood, is determined to protect the Animals -- even it means combating the mysterious Wizard, even if it means risking her single chance at romance. Even wiser in guilt and sorrow, she can find herself grateful when the world declares her a witch. And she can even make herself glad for that young girl from Kansas.
, Gregory Maguire has taken the largely unknown world of Oz and populated it with the power of his own imagination. Fast-paced, fantastically real and supremely entertaining, this is a novel of vision and re-vision. Oz never will be the same again.
"... [a] magical telling of the land of Oz before and up to the arrival of Dorothy and company.... A captivating, funny, and perceptive look at destiny, personal responsibility, and the not-always-clashing beliefs of faith and magic. Save a place on the shelf between Alice
and The Hobbit
that spot is well deserved." -- Kirkus Reviews
"An outstanding work of imagination." -- --USA Today
"It is for good readers who like satire, and love exceedingly imaginative and clever fantasy." -- School Library Journal
"A magnificent work, a genuine tour de force." -- Lloyd Alexander, author of the Chronicles of Prydain
"Children - children of all ages, as Maguire reminds us in this splendid novel - need witches. Gregory Maguire has taken this figure of childhood fantasy and given her a sensual and powerful nature that will stir adult hearts with fear and longing all over again. It's a brilliant trick - and a remarkable treat." -- The Times-Picayune
"It's a staggering feat of wordcraft, made no less so by the fact that its boundaries were set decades ago by somebody else. Maguire's larger triumph here is twofold: First, in Elphaba, he has created (re-created? renovated?) one of the great heroines in fantasy literature: a fiery, passionate, unforgettable and ultimately tragic figure. Second, Wicked is the best fantasy novel of ideas I've read since Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast or Frank Herbert's Dune. Would that all books with this much innate consumer appeal were also this good. And vice versa." -- Los Angeles Times
"Listen up, Munchkins. Stop your singing, stop the dancing. The Wicked Witch is no longer dead. But not to worry. Gregory Maguire's shrewdly imagined and beautifully written first novel, "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," not only revives her but re-envisions and redeems her for our times." -- Newsday
Gregory Maguire is a bestselling author who has earned rave reviews and a dedicated following for Wicked". He received his doctorate in English Literature from Tufts University, and has taught at Simmons College and other Boston area colleges. He has also served as an artist-in-residence at the Blue Mountain Center, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Hambridge Center. Gregory has lived in Dublin and London, but now makes his home near Boston, Massachusetts, with his partner, their two sons and daughter.
Born with green skin and huge teeth, like a dragon, the free-spirited Elphaba grows up to be an anti-totalitarian agitator, an animal-rights activist, a nun, then a nurse who tends the dying?and, ultimately, the headstrong Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz. Maguire's strange and imaginative postmodernist fable uses L. Frank Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a springboard to create a tense realm inhabited by humans, talking animals (a rhino librarian, a goat physician), Munchkinlanders, dwarves and various tribes. The Wizard of Oz, emperor of this dystopian dictatorship, promotes Industrial Modern architecture and restricts animals' right to freedom of travel; his holy book is an ancient manuscript of magic that was clairvoyantly located by Madam Blavatsky 40 years earlier. Much of the narrative concerns Elphaba's troubled youth (she is raised by a giddy alcoholic mother and a hermitlike minister father who transmits to her his habits of loathing and self-hatred) and with her student years. Dorothy appears only near novel's end, as her house crash-lands on Elphaba's sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, in an accident that sets Elphaba on the trail of the girl from Kansas?as well as the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Lion?and her fabulous new shoes. Maguire combines puckish humor and bracing pessimism in this fantastical meditation on good and evil, God and free will, which should, despite being far removed in spirit from the Baum books, captivate devotees of fantasy.