Reading Journal Entry: Son of a Witch, by Gregory Maguire

I just finished the advance reading copy I picked up at the BEA of Son of a Witch, Gregory Maguire's sequel to the mega-hit Wicked. Release date September 27. Be green with envy, that would be appropriate.

Oz has not fared well since the fall of the Wicked Witch. Traveler's bodies, their faces removed, are found in the countryside. Depression followed the departure of the Wizard, and the government goes through a series of transitions.

Liir was raised by Elphaba, but neither he nor anyone else knows whether he is her son. He flings himself out into Oz after Elphaba's death and slowly finds his way back to his legacy from her.

The story is told in a flashback format. It begins with a caravan finds Liir near death in a remote canyon about ten years after Elphaba's melting. He is nursed through a mysterious illness by a mysterious girl. Interspersed is the story of his wanderings, crimes, and various unfulfilled quests.

Although he ages ten years, Liir never seems to outgrow the awkward adolescent stage. As a character portrait it may be true to life, but it's difficult to fashion a story arc out of the life of a born drifter. Maguire uses the framework to give an otherwise plodding story a brooding atmosphere of decay, but in the end much is unexplained and several story elements are not realized to their full potential. I can't help wondering not just about the fate of some characters, but what purpose they served.

The end effect is dark, meandering, and full of promise for a sequel. Maguire even tips a hat to the future of Oz as written by Baum, which most readers will not recognize.

It'll sell like hotcakes.

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