Son of a Witch (Wicked Years Series #2)
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Son of a Witch (Wicked Years Series #2)

3.8 495
by Gregory Maguire

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The long-anticipated sequel to the beloved and hugely successful novel Wicked, now Broadway's #1 smash hit musical

When a Witch dies-not as a crone, withered and incapable, but as a woman in her prime, at the height of her passion and prowess-too much is left unsaid. What might have happened had Elphaba lived? Of her campaigns in defense of the Animals, of

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The long-anticipated sequel to the beloved and hugely successful novel Wicked, now Broadway's #1 smash hit musical

When a Witch dies-not as a crone, withered and incapable, but as a woman in her prime, at the height of her passion and prowess-too much is left unsaid. What might have happened had Elphaba lived? Of her campaigns in defense of the Animals, of her appetite for justice, of her talent for magic itself, what good might have come? If every death is a tragedy, the death of a woman in her prime keenly bereaves the whole world. Ten years after the publication of Wicked, bestselling novelist Gregory Maguire returns to the land of Oz to follow the story of Liir, the adolescent boy left hiding in the shadows of the castle when Dorothy did in the Witch.

A decade after the Witch has melted away, the young man Liir is discovered bruised, comatose, and left for dead in a gully. Shattered in spirit as well as in form, he is tended by the mysterious Candle, a
foundling in her own right, until failed campaigns of his childhood bear late, unexpected fruit.

Liir is only one part of the world that Elphaba left behind. As a boy hardly in his teens, he is asked to help the needy in ways in which he may be unskilled. Is he Elphaba's son? Has he power of his own? Can he
liberate Princess Nastoya into a dignified death? Can he locate his supposed half-sister, Nor, last seen in shackles in the Wizard's protection? Can he survive in an Oz little improved since the death of the Wicked Witch of the West? Can he learn to fly?

In Son of a Witch, Gregory Maguire suggests that the magic we locate in distant, improbable places like Oz is no greater than the magic inherent in any hard life lived fully, son of a witch or no.

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Editorial Reviews

Katherine A. Powers
Though Wicked was not simply a reverse image of Baum's book or the famous movie, it depended on their depictions of Oz as a foil for its own maverick reshaping of the narrative. Those for whom potty humor is the acme of wit and foul decay is horror sublime will be happy to know that Son of a Witch is as well-supplied with those articles as the earlier book was. What it has lost, however, is the shaping vigor gained by pushing against a well-known story.
—The Washington Post
Sophie Harrison
Maguire clearly feels most comfortable when inventing freehand, and most of his novel is set after the original Oz story ends. Dorothy's presence in the text causes difficulties. She belongs too frankly in someone else's fairy tale; her arrival strains Maguire's own confident production in an unhappy way…Once he's freed himself from Baum's tenacious apron strings, Maguire begins to enjoy himself, and the story picks up.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
With a voice that sounds a bit like Richard Dreyfuss on helium, Maguire does a solid if somewhat unconventional job of narrating his own novel. His pace, like his prose, is deliberate and thoughtful. His creativity and imagination shine in his ability to provide his strange characters (not a human among them) with equally unusual voices. It is not the tonal range that makes his delivery interesting, though; it's the cadence and timbre of the voices that win the listener over. Liir, who may or may not be the son of the Wicked Witch of the West, is read with a detached, depressed air, an adolescent with ennui looking for his lost half-sister, Nor. Candle, the Munchkin girl who becomes his sweetheart, has a voice that sounds almost like backwards masking. A short interview with Maguire is an added value on the final disc; he says he enjoys the recording process and that the inspiration for the book was twofold: the many letters from young fans asking what happened to Nor, last seen as a chained political prisoner, and seeing the Abu Ghraib torture photographs. This one-two punch left an itch that could only be scratched by writing Son of a Witch. Simultaneous release with the Regan Books hardcover (Reviews, July 18). (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Nola Theiss
To quote the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, January 2006: Landing at the beginning of Son of a Witch without traveling through the previous novel, Wicked, is like unexpectedly arriving in a foreign country without a guidebook or a translator. One feels a little like Dorothy, who must figure out where she is and how to get back. There are enough references to the familiar characters and events of The Wizard of Oz to comfort the traveler, but it takes a while to get one's bearings. In this novel, we are quickly introduced to Liir, who may be the son of the witch, Elphaba, an important character in Wicked. Liir has been left for dead and is now being nursed back to life. Oz is currently wizardless and if Liir is going to regain his rightful position, he must face many adventures and find his maybe half-sister, Nor. Maquire is a superb storyteller, capable of reeling off detail after detail so his fantasy seems real and his story becomes a parable about our own world, but the reader will miss much of the richness of this tale without reading the first novel.
Library Journal
This sequel to the adult fairy tale Wicked (1995)-later adapted as the hit musical of the same name-begins ten years after the destruction of Elphaba, a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West. In Maguire's dark version of the Land of Oz, there's not much to ring the bells for in the Emerald City, despite the tyrannical Wizard's departure. Corruption is rife, political factions compete for power, and radicals proclaim "Elphaba lives!" Elsewhere, a horribly injured young man called Liir wakes in the religious House of Saint Glinda to many puzzles. Who tried to kill Liir? How did an enigmatic Quadling girl revive him? Why is he expected to take up a quest on behalf of sentient Animals? Above all, was Elphaba his mother? These and other questions drive a tale that adroitly mixes drama, humor, and political satire into a well-knit examination of good and evil-and leaves several doors open for future journeys over the rainbow into this cleverly constructed dystopia. Recommended for most fantasy collections.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Son picks up where Maguire's highly successful Wicked (HarperCollins, 1995) left off, with the death of Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West. She left behind a daughter, Nor, and Liir, who may or may not be her son. After her death, he enters into a decade of listless soul searching. He travels for a time and then joins the military, enjoying the structure it provides his life. But eventually his rearing by the Witch as well as his possible heritage catch up to him and he finds himself in demand to start a new revolution against the tyranny of Emerald City. An odd series of disfiguring murders starts occurring all across Oz. Liir discovers that the new Emperor sits behind the machinations and uses the strange killings to spread distrust among the various races of the land. Wielding Elphaba's flying broom and donning her magical cape, Liir makes some small but bold gestures that help the populace of Oz and replants the seeds of hope that Elphaba spread a generation before. Son is a tighter work than Wicked, making deft use of flashbacks and varying viewpoints to create a quicker pace. And Liir's quest-both to find himself and to save the people of Oz-is easier to believe than the motivations that drove the bitter yet heroic Elphaba. A well-written, well-crafted fantasy that can stand on its own.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Animals talk, attack dragons prowl the skies and political unrest afflicts the land of Oz in this richly detailed sequel to Maguire's contemporary fantasy classic Wicked (1996). Its protagonist is Liir, the probable offspring of Elphaba Thropp, the late, mostly unlamented Wicked Witch of the West (unless Liir's birth mother was actually Elphaba's unfortunate sibling Nessarose; it's complicated). We meet Liir as he lies near death in one of Oz's outlying lands and is taken to the Mauntery of Saint Glinda, where the venerable Superior Maunt entrusts his care to beautiful gypsy girl Candle. Parallel flashbacks mix with subsequent action to describe Liir's boyhood adventures with Dorothy Gale (even if she has murdered his mother) and her nonhuman companions, various ordeals in an embattled Oz riven with rebellion (from which the Wizard has long since fled), as Liir seeks his missing childhood friend Nor as well as Elphaba's notorious book of spells, joins the Emerald City's Home Guard defense force and-aloft on Elphaba's flying broomstick-challenges the forces of both disorder and incumbency, makes peace with his past and envisions a future in which even changelings may assume their full humanity. The book works too hard to dazzle us; it's considerably more cluttered and strained than Wicked. But, like L. Frank Baum's magical land itself, it's filled with wonderful things: the neurotic kvetching of the Cowardly Lion (who disappears, alas, much too soon); a brilliant subplot involving the half-human, half-elephant Princess Nastoya; a Conference of Birds; and the political ascendancy of the Scarecrow, a puppet ruler serving a cabal of bankers. Best of all is Liir's arduous pilgrimage towardbecoming what he was meant to be. Too long, but few readers will fail to stay its magical course. Once again, the myth of Oz proves its enduring power.
“Maguire’s captivating, fully imagined world of horror and wonder illuminates the links between good and evil, retribution and forgiveness.”
Entertainment Weekly
“As fantastical as a novel set in Oz should be.”
New York Times
“Maguire is full of storytelling brio . . . his Oz is meticulously drawn.”
Boston Globe
“Maguire has done it again: Son of a Witch is as wicked as they come. . . . Thoroughly entertaining.”
—Wally Lamb
For Wicked:“I fell quickly and totally under the spell of this remarkable, wry, and fully realized story.”
People Magazine
"Maguire’s captivating, fully imagined world of horror and wonder illuminates the links between good and evil, retribution and forgiveness."
Wally Lamb
For Wicked:"I fell quickly and totally under the spell of this remarkable, wry, and fully realized story."
—John Updike
“An amazing novel.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Wicked Years Series, #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.13(d)
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Son of a Witch

By Gregory Maguire


Copyright © 2005 Gregory Maguire
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060899042

Chapter One

The House of Saint Glinda

So the talk of random brutality wasn't just talk. At noontime they discovered the bodies of three young women, out on some mission of conversion that appeared to have gone awry. The novice maunts had been strangled by their ropes of holy beads, and their faces removed.

Her nerve being shaken at last, Oatsie Manglehand now caved in to the demands of her paying customers. She told the team drivers they'd pause only long enough to dig some shallow graves while the horses slaked their thirst. Then the caravan would press on across the scrubby flats known, for the failed farmsteads abandoned here and there, as the Disappointments.

Moving by night, at least they wouldn't make a sitting target, though they might as easily wander into trouble as sidestep it. Still, Oatsie's party was antsy. Hunker down all night and wait for horse hoofs, spears? Too hard on everyone. Oatsie consoled herself: If the caravan kept moving, she could sit forward with her eyes peeled, out of range of the carping, the second-guessing, the worrying.

With the benefit of height, therefore, Oatsie spotted the gully before anyone else did. The cloudburst at sunset had fed a small trackside rivulet that flowed around a flank ofskin, water-lacquered in the new moonlight. An island, she feared, of human flesh.

I ought to turn aside before the others notice, she thought; how much more can they take? There is nothing I can do for that human soul. The digging of another trench would require an hour, minimum. An additional few moments for prayers. The project would only further agitate these clients as they obsess about their own precious mortality.

Upon the knee of the horizon balanced the head of a jackal moon, so-called because, once every generation or so, a smear of celestial flotsam converged behind the crescent moon of early autumn. The impact was creepy, a look of a brow and a snout. As the moon rounded out over a period of weeks, the starveling would turn into a successful hunter, its cheeks bulging.

Always a fearsome sight, the jackal moon tonight spooked Oatsie Manglehand further. Don't stop for this next casualty. Get through the Disappointments, deliver these paying customers to the gates of the Emerald City.But she resisted giving in to superstition. Be scared of the real jackals, she reminded herself, not frets and nocturnal portents.

In any case, the light of the constellation alleviated some of the color blindness that sets in at night. The body was pale, almost luminous. Oatsie might divert the Grasstrail Train and give the corpse a wide berth before anyone else noticed it, but the slope of the person's shoulders, the unnatural twist of legs -- the jackal moon made her read the figure too well, as too clearly human, for her to be able to turn aside.

"Nubb," she barked to her second, "rein in. We'll pull into flank formation up that rise. There's another fatality, there in the runoff."

Cries of alarm as the news passed back, and another mutter of mutiny: Why should they stop? -- were they to bear witness to every fresh atrocity? Oatsie didn't listen. She yanked the reins of her team of horses, to halt them, and she lowered herself gingerly. She stumped, her hand on her sore hip, until she stood a few feet over the body.

Face down and genitals hidden, he appeared to have been a young man. A few scraps of fabric were still knotted about his waist, and a boot some yards distant, but he was otherwise naked, and no sign of his clothes.

Curious: no evidence of the assassins. Neither had there been about the bodies of the maunts, but that was on rockier ground, in a drier hour. Oatsie couldn't see any sign of scuffle here, and in the mud of the gulch one might have expected . . . something. The body wasn't bloody, nor decayed yet; the murder was recent. Perhaps this evening, perhaps only an hour ago.

"Nubb, let's heave him up and see if they've taken his face," she said.

"No blood," said Nubb.

"Blood may have run off in that cloudburst. Steel yourself, now."

They got on either side of the body and bit their lips. She looked at Nubb, meaning: It's only the next thing, it's not the last thing. Let's get through this, fellow.

She jerked her head in the direction of the hoist. One, two, heave.

They got him up. His head had fallen into a natural scoop in the stone, a few inches higher than where the rain had pooled. His face was intact, more or less; that is to say, it was still there, though shattered.

"How did he get here?" said Nubb. "And why didn't they scrape him?"

Oatsie just shook her head. She settled on her haunches. Her travelers had come forward and were congregating on the rise behind her; she could hear them rustling. She suspected that they had gathered stones, and were ready to kill her if she insisted on a burial.

The jackal moon rose a few notches higher, as if trying to see into the gulley. The prurience of the heavens!

"We're not going to dig another grave." That from her noisiest client, a wealthy trader from the northern Vinkus. "Not his, Oatsie Manglehand, and not yours, either. We're not doing it. We leave him unburied and alone, or we leave him unburied with your corpse for company."

"We don't need to do either," said Oatsie. She sighed. "Poor, poor soul, whoever he is. He needs no grave. He isn't dead yet."

In time, when the travelers had rejoined their cronies and relatives in the Emerald City -- in salons, in public houses, in taverns of exchange -- they heard more chatter about the hostilities they had managed to sidestep. Rumor flourished. Forty, sixty, a hundred deaths resulting from the skirmishes between the Scrow and the Yunamata. Barbarians, the lot of them:They deserved to kill off each other. But not us.


Excerpted from Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire Copyright © 2005 by Gregory Maguire. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Wally Lamb
For Wicked:“I fell quickly and totally under the spell of this remarkable, wry, and fully realized story.”

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