I finished off Gregory Maguire’s Wicked on the commute last night. If you’re not familiar with it, it came out several years ago and is a “parallel novel” that re-examines part of the story of L. Frank Baum’s Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West. Although Wicked has roots that seem more strongly placed in the Oz novels* than the popular movie, readers shouldn’t have too much trouble orienting themselves. Maguire uses the backdrop of Oz to examine morality, politics and society, and in my opinion succeeds in drawing some good parallels. His expansion (and re-imagining) of the characters most of us are familiar is quite entertaining as are his addition of some additional figures. However, as a novel the work seems to wind down and run out of steam towards the end. Where as earlier and formative events in the life and times of the Wicked Witch make the reader reconsider her in a world more akin to the darker periods of our own modern world, the conclusion of the novel feels almost anti-climatic and thin. I suppose the ending is probably best taken as inescapable fate or destiny taking over, but I was sort of hoping that the innovative liberties Maguire took would continue to the very end.
* And, as such, Wicked is not at all suitable for children.