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Son of a Witch Hardcover – September 27, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 522 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Wicked Years Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The death of Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West, brings about spectacular changes in this masterfully imaginative sequel to Maguire's 1995 blockbuster Wicked—most notably, the startling possibility that Elphaba had a son. Scattered among the ruins of great portions of Emerald City, many residents have been skinned and bloodied, supposedly by the barbaric Yunamatas. Travel caravan leader Oatsie Manglehand stumbles upon the body of an unknown young man, badly beaten but still alive. She presents him to the wise Superior Maunt, who recognizes the hurt boy as Liir, rumored to be the dead Witch's secreted son. A mute waif named Candle revives him with her haunting, ethereal music and hidden affections. Meanwhile, Maguire supplies alternating chapters of extensive, mesmerizing backstory of Liir's boyhood, from the witch's watery demise, to the trek to the Wizard's Castle with Dorothy and company, his search for the imprisoned princess Nor, and a long stint in the Munchkinland Army, all while donning his mother's black cape and clutching her magic broom handle. Along the way, a headspinning cast of vividly described, eccentric characters emerges, but nothing prepares Liir for Candle's shocking surprise announcement. Tucked into Maguire's enchanting fable are carefully calibrated object lessons in forgiveness, retribution, love, loss and the art of moving on despite tragic circumstances. Ten years after Wicked (which is still on Broadway), fans will once again be clicking their heels with wonderment.
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Son picks up where Maguires 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 Elphabas 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 Liirs 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Regan Books (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060548932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060548933
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (522 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michelle G. Heinrich on October 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In general, I enjoyed this book. Yes, as many readers point out there are, indeed, a few "flaws", but those are mostly a matter of perspective and can be overcome. However, it helps if you simply put a few things in mind. While I do recommend it, I have a few suggestions for improving your reading experience:

1. Unless you are one of those types who loved WICKED enough to nearly memorize it in its entirety, I would highly suggest that you re-read WICKED before you begin this sequel. It will not only help to get yourself in the correct frame of mind but will help you to adjust to the ontology of Oz. I actually began S of a W, stopped, re-read WICKED and then resumed. It helped a great deal - believe me.

2. Remember that, at least to some extent, the book is allegorical or at least very large and sweeping in scope. This means that, while the characters (especially Liir, Trism and Candle) may not initially appear to be well-developed, they actually are - but in a very different manner. It is a story about Oz, not necessarily about the characters. Think of it as a large-scale (Tolkienesque?) drama. Note the way the characters interact and develop and especially what they might represent. If you do not look for it to be a subtle character study (of Liir or otherwise) you will not be disappointed.

3. Read some of the original Oz books and note the world that Baum created. You'll find some interesting revelations.

4. Don't be so in love with Elphaba (as you saw her in WICKED) that you expect the same from Liir. I struggled with this, but had to keep reminding myself that Elphaba is dead and this is an entirely different novel.

5. Maguire is a master at subtle language and imagery.
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Format: Hardcover
The wide divergence of views about the second of McGuire's Oz books, I think, is because the two books will commend themselves to different audiences. In Wicked, while we are given one of the most memorable of characters, the story is really an exploration of preconceptions, an exploration that works best in a world that we at least think we know. Liir's story in the Son of a Witch is about Liir, the obvious parable of 21st Century US not withstanding, and it just happens to take place in the world we left at the end of Wicked.

As an another reviewer pointed out, Liir is looking for himself and he starts with nothing to work with and that's the point. Because of how Liir is created as a character in Wicked, doing it in Oz in the wake of the death of the Witch works well. It provides an explanation for why Liir lack's a self conception and also provides a fantasy world in which he can develop that conception all without needing to completely rediscover and reexplain everything. The same could have been done by trying to place the story in the "real" world but frankly it works better placed in a fantasy world where the author can make anything happen.

Unlike others, I did not find the book boring at all and love Maguire's writing. In the end Son of a Witch may not be as good a book as the excellent Wicked but it is nevertheless very good and well worth reading. But again, Liir is not the same kind of character as Elphaba and more to the point, while the world may be the one we first entered in Wicked, the story is not. In other words, this is not a "sequel" so it is hardly surprising that some who loved the first book are disappointed in the second. Still, I suspect that most readers who come to the book without carrying to many preconceptions, particularly those who enjoy stories told through the means of fantasy worlds, will enjoy themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
If you weren't happy with the spin Wicked cast on Oz, the sequel is no more likely to please. Although Oz, of course, continues to be the backdrop and we even have some longer moments with Dorothy and her companions, Son of a Witch primarily develops Maguire's own threads from Wicked. Like Wicked, he picks and chooses elements from both the book and movie so neither can be seen as the exclusive source he's elaborating on (unlike the musical, which fits mostly with the movie). Some parts of the book seem vaguely related to the musical, though they may simply be the natural progression of ideas from the original. Of particular note, though, is some thematic similarity to the "Defying Gravity" idea.

This book also improves on some of the complaints raised with Wicked. Sex has been toned down, although those who felt it was "pornographic" may still be offended by it. More importantly, Son of the Witch is not packed with Maguire's own interpretation of evil and other themes. At times I felt like he didn't think the reader could figure out what he was trying to say without explaining it. The sequel is not so bogged down. Perhaps he has decided that interpretation is best left to the reader.

If you liked Wicked for it's postmodern glimpse at a nostalgic fairy tale and are intrigued by the questions left unanswered, I'd recommend this. If your problems with Wicked were Maguire's preachiness or descriptive sex scenes, you may find Son of a Witch more to your liking. However, Baum fans just looking for another magical journey in the land of Oz won't find it here.
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