Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Title: Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 1996
Source: Chapters
Rating: 4/5
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? (Goodreads)
Have you ever wondered what life would be like over the rainbow? Way up high in the lands of Oz?  Have you ever wanted to know the real Wicked Witch of the West?  Well then, you’re in for a treat.
Set in the mystical world of Oz, the story begins in Rush Margins, the small town where the Wicked Witch of the West, or Elphaba, was born.  Elphaba is born with skin a “scandalous shade of pale emerald,” razor sharp teeth and oddly angular features, and despite these flaws, we see that Elphaba undergoes major character development and growth throughout the novel.  As she learns about the world and experiences it for herself, she learns to come to terms with herself — from birth, she is treated as a curse to her parents, but she is a smart girl who excels in school and pursues a revolutionary role in the Animal Rights Movement.  However, despite her intentions, Elphaba remains an outsider from society until her death.
Wicked is a re-telling of Baum’s classic tale, however there are many obvious distinctions between the two novels.  The greatest are narrative points of view, Elphaba’s in Wicked and Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz, allowing for a greater and more well-rounded story on Baum’s characters and world, as well as the intended audience.  While The Wizard of Oz is a fairy tale for children where the heroine overcomes the evil Wicked Witch of the West that torments every living being in Oz, Wicked is about a woman killed for her political views.

I would personally recommend Wicked to anybody ready to face a literary challenge.  Though Maguire writes with some complexity, and sophistication, as well as deals with mature themes, making it a novel geared for adults, it is a novel well worth-reading just for the story itself.  Wicked is also part of Maguire’s The Wicked Years tetralogy, which continue Elphaba’s story through the eyes of her son, the Cowardly Lion and her grand-daughter, and although I have not yet read the final instalment of the series, I highly recommend to read each one and they individually bring new life to Elphaba’s story.


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