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Friday, 10 February 2012

Review: Wicked (book)

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When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
(Blurb from Goodreads).

When I opened this book I expected the familiar story that I know from the musical – I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The book has so few similarities with the Broadway show that I could count them on one hand. 

Once I had got over the unsure feeling this left me with, I fell in love with the tale woven before my eyes.  Honestly, Oz was brought to life in a way that I didn’t know it needed, holding me in its enchantment and horrors.

Wicked is told through a few different points of view which allows the reader to appreciate the different aspects of the world Gregory Maguire creates and while I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about the language, the very way you read it adds to the experience (I found this completely natural but others have told me that it made it difficult for them to follow the story), bringing you into Oz in a completely unique and incredible effective way.

Personally I can’t gush enough about this book but beware that it is not for you if you like happily-ever-after stories.  This is a gritty tale of politics, racial issues and unfriendly characters that will leave you wanting more tales from Oz.  I’m definitely going to be looking up the rest of Maguire’s books as ‘Wicked’ was exactly the dark-side to The Wizard of Oz stories and I can’t help but be intrigued by that style of storytelling.

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