Ten years after his tour de force Wicked, Gregory Maguire returns to the Land of Oz. Son of a Witch unspools the story of Liir, an adolescent boy who is discovered battered and comatose a decade after Elphaba melted into oblivion. Nursed back to health by the enigmatic Candle, this mysterious foundling is soon confronted by urgent questions: Is he Elphaba's son? Does he himself possess magical powers? And where is Nor, the girl who is rumored to be his half sister? A literate witchery well done.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For Wicked: “I fell quickly and totally under the spell of this remarkable, wry, and fully realized story.
Maguire’s captivating, fully imagined world of horror and wonder illuminates the links between good and evil, retribution and forgiveness.
“An amazing novel.
As fantastical as a novel set in Oz should be.
Maguire is full of storytelling brio . . . his Oz is meticulously drawn.
Maguire has done it again: Son of a Witch is as wicked as they come. . . . Thoroughly entertaining.