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Wicked by Gregory Maguire


by Gregory Maguire

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Wicked Years (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
21,36954963 (3.6)1 / 544
  1. 253
    The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (TuesdayNovember, lucien, sturlington)
    lucien: An obvious choice and one that's already listed. I will add that if your only exposure to the original is the film, I'd recommend this short read. There are several ideas Maguire plays with that are only in the book.
  2. 92
    A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire (KrazySkaterChick)
  3. 94
    Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (Kerian)
  4. 30
    Grendel by John Gardner (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are books that give you the "bad guy" take on classic tales.
  5. 52
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (Shuffy2)
  6. 42
    The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (joyfulgirl)
  7. 20
    The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (mhmolinaro)
  8. 31
    Was by Geoff Ryman (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: Set more in the 'real world' this re-telling of Oz compares three protagonists: a gay male actor with AIDS, a girl called Dorothy who a fictional L. Frank Baum 'created' Oz for, and a makeup girl on the set of the original film version film who encounters Judy Garland.… (more)
  9. 32
    A Barnstormer in Oz by Philip José Farmer (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: More affiliated to Science Fiction, this retelling focuses on Dorothy's son who returns to Oz by accident.
  10. 11
    The Librarian (Book Two: Unhappily Ever After) by Eric Hobbs (Othemts)
  11. 11
    A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez (infiniteletters)
  12. 34
    Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (khoov00)
    khoov00: This book seems to appeal to some with the same sense of humor as it would take to appreciate the book Wicked.
  13. 415
    1984 by George Orwell (hayfa)

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English (537)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (545)
Showing 1-5 of 537 (next | show all)
Love this book! The religious/political tension in this story resonates, and getting to know Elphaba as a person outside her "Wicked Witch of the West" persona makes Baum's Wizard of Oz harder to stomach. Elphaba is witty, intelligent, strong-willed and down right funny. She sees the world in much the same way that I do- like there are missing pieces- and is always in search of the whole story.

Admittedly, there are places where the writing is weak and the narrator is unreliable, but for the most part I think it is worth sticking with. ( )
  kristina_brooke | Apr 15, 2016 |
I loved this!!!! So good! ( )
  katieloucks | Mar 21, 2016 |
Wicked is not what I expected at all. It's a very strange book and I didn't really know what to expect. I haven't seen the musical yet (though I'm desperate to do so), therefore, I honestly didn't know much about the story at all (apart from what I gathered from a few of the songs from the musical).

I'd say Wicked is completely unique compared to anything else I've read. It packs so much into the story and touches on so many topics, including religion, politics, family, romance, sex. However, it is also a very wordy book and I found it to be a very slow going read. But, that being said, I couldn't put it down.

To be fair, it's been a while since I last watched The Wizard of Oz and I think I've only read an abridged version when I was young. So, I'm a bit rusty on the details of the original story. I did find Wicked quite confusing and weird in places and I'm not too sure if it's because of this.

Gregory Maguire does a brilliant job of expanding the world of Oz. He is honestly a wordsmith and describes everything in beautiful (and sometimes rather crude) detail.

Wicked is told in the third person and from the perspectives of a variety of characters close to Elphaba, including Nanny, Glinda, and Fiyero. But never from Elphaba's perspective. The reader therefore never knows what Elphaba is thinking and has to rely on the thoughts of her peers. There was no way that I could have predicted what Elphaba was going to do (with the exception of the inevitable conclusion). However, as The Wizard of Oz is a well-known story, the ending was obvious and not the most climatic.

I really grew to love Elphaba and she was not what I expected her to be like at all. It is really bittersweet given how the story ends. Gregory Maguire paints her out to be a seriously misunderstood and often overlooked woman. Elphaba grew up in the shadows of and very religious father and Nessarose, her younger sister and father's favourite. Her skin condition (being green) also singles her out and people don't warm to her because of this. She lives a hard life being an outcast and any happiness she feels is quickly diminished. I really didn't see the "wicked" in her at all. She just needed a bit of love.

I also quite liked Nanny. She just gets straight to the point and lets everyone know exactly what she thought. She's brilliant.

And I wish we saw more of Liir. He has a really unconventional start to life and isn't the most outgoing child. I just really liked him for some reason and can't wait to find out more about him in Son of a Witch.

Wicked is such a big book and there are so many characters that it is really hard to say what I liked about them. Often, characters were in the story for only a short time too so it was also quite hard to attach to them and get an idea of what they are like. However, they all bring something different to Elphaba's life and this wasn't always a good thing.

I really did enjoy Wicked, despite its rather slow pace and confusing plot. It's a brilliant backstory to the Wicked Witch and it's really hard not to love Elphaba. I would recommend Wicked with caution as it is a bit of a tricky read. But, I will definitely be reading more by Gregory Maguire and can't wait to read Son of a Witch.

This review and many more can be found at My Expanding Bookshelf. ( )
  MyExpandingBookshelf | Mar 7, 2016 |
The novel is a political, social, and ethical commentary on what good and evil really are. It takes place in The Land of Oz, in the years leading to Dorothy's arrival. The story centers on Elphaba, the misunderstood green-skinned girl who grows up to become the notorious Wicked Witch of the West. Gregory Maguire fashioned the name of Elphaba (pronounced EL-fa-ba) from the initials of Lyman Frank Baum, L-F-B. The story is divided into five different sections.

[edit] Munchkinlanders
Elphaba is born to Melena Thropp, the granddaughter of the Eminent Thropp of Munchkinland, and Frexspar, an itinerant unionist minister. Frex is the seventh son of a seventh son, and the sixth pastor in his family. Melena married beneath her family's social standing and is generally unhappy in her marriage. She is known to have many extramarital affairs. Though it does not become clear until much later, Melena is at some point approached by a mysterious stranger, who doses her with a potion from a green bottle. He seduces her and nine months later she gives birth to a child, Elphaba, inside a device called The Clock of the Time Dragon, as her husband is attacked by a lynch mob. (The Clock of the Time Dragon is regarded as a religious relic by followers of the "pleasure faith," and recurs as a significant image throughout the novel.)

Melena's husband, Frex, believes the baby is a punishment from the Unnamed God for failing to protect his parishioners, and has Melena's Nanny brought from the Colwen Grounds to take care of the child. In addition to her skin being green, the baby is born with unnaturally sharp milk teeth. Her head is strapped to keep her from biting things (including herself), and she is terrified of water.

About a year and a half later, a traveling Quadling glassblower named Turtle Heart visits the home of Melena and Frex. Melena offers him food and drink, and Turtle Heart blows a beautiful glass reflecting ball for Elphaba. With Frex absent for extended periods, preaching to the Munchkinlanders, Turtle Heart and Melena begin a secret affair. When Frex returns, he befriends Turtle Heart (seemingly ignorant of the relationship between the Quadling and his wife), out of both unionist charity (Quadlings, after all, "ranked about as low on the social ladder as it was possible to get and still be human"), religious zeal (Quadlings have no concept of religion, so Frex sees Turtle Heart as a potential convert) and a homosexual attraction of his own.

At the end of the first part, Melena is pregnant with a child, Elphaba's younger sister Nessarose. It is unknown whether the father is Frex or Turtle Heart. Nessarose, or "Nessa" for short, is born as pink as Elphaba is green and, more importantly, she is disabled. Born without arms, she requires constant supervision and care. Nessarose embraces Frex's zealotry and, thus, she is her father's favorite, to Elphaba's lasting angst.

[edit] Gillikin
The second part opens on a train to Shiz, a city in southwestern Gillikin. Two of the train's passengers, Doctor Dillamond and Galinda, are bound for Shiz University. Upon arrival, Dillamond retreats to his professors' quarters and Galinda heads off to Crage Hall, the women's university.

Having lost her chaperone, Ama Clutch, during the train ride to Shiz (Ama Clutch stepped on a rusty nail and stayed behind for medical treatment), Galinda has no one to represent her in the Ama's roommate negotiations. Refusing to bunk with the common girls in the group dormitory (the Pink Dormitory), Galinda is forced to room with Elphaba, who is now seventeen years old. Galinda and Elphaba do not get along very well. Elphaba, being green, is not interested in socializing, and Galinda, descended from the noble Arduenna Clan of Gillikin (though only on her mother's side), is more interested in climbing the social ladder than becoming friends with her outcast roommate. Later though, Galinda (after having a fight with her new friends) decides to mock Elphaba by making her wear a hat that she was sure Elphaba would look hideous in. When Elphaba looks pretty in the hat, Galinda says so, partly horrified that she talked to the "green girl." They start talking about evil and Elphaba teaches Galinda how to think. Galinda and Elphaba attend Dillamond's biology lectures. Doctor Dillamond is a sentient Goat, and part of a minority of talking Animals (distinguished in the book through capitalization) that hold civil rights equal to humans. Dillamond informs the class that, under the despotic reign of the Wizard of Oz, Animals are being discriminated against, treated like regular (non sentient) animals and, in some cases, forced to return to the fields. Dillamond's fears that Animal discrimination is becoming widespread are seemingly confirmed by Madame Morrible (nicknamed "Horrible Morrible" by Elphaba), the Headmistress of Crage Hall at Shiz University, who holds a poetry soiree that turns out to be nothing more than a forum for her propagandizing: Animals should be seen and not heard. Elphaba is drawn to the Animal rights movement early on [1] and she later becomes Dillamond's secretary and lab assistant.

Elphaba becomes friends with a Munchkin boy named Boq, who develops a crush on Galinda. As she is a tall Gillikinese, and he is a short Munchkinlander, she rebuffs him. He hopes his friendship with Elphaba will bring him closer to Galinda; however, he ends up becoming wrapped up in Elphaba and Dillamond's cause. However, their friendship is shaken when Doctor Dillamond is murdered while on the verge of a great discovery about the genetic similarities between humans and Animals; Galinda's chaperone Ama Clutch witnesses Madame Morrible's wind-up servant Grommetik kill Dillamond, but she is magicked into a false stupor to keep her quiet. Galinda is wracked with guilt over what has happened to Ama Clutch, but it is the murder of Doctor Dillamond that has the most profound impact on her. In his memory, Galinda adopts Dr. Dillamond's mispronunciation of her name, Glinda, and throws herself into her studies, having settled on a course of study in Sorcery, at Madame Morrible's insistence. Glinda and Elphaba become close friends. Boq's crush on Glinda eventually subsides, and they all become friends with a Vinkus Prince named Fiyero, a quiet boy who speaks little English but draws attention by his strange customs and pattern of blue diamond tattoos all across his body, who is new to Shiz, and Elphaba's sister, Nessarose, who is called up to Shiz, ostensibly to bring a new chaperone for Glinda and Elphaba, Nanny. Frex sends his favorite child a "back-to-school" gift, a pair of shoes covered with hand-blown glass beads. Meanwhile, Elphaba carries on Doctor Dillamond's research in secret.

Over time, Ama Clutch's condition deteriorates and, when it is clear that she is about to die, Glinda tries to use magic to bring her out of her stupor. Her lucidity briefly restored, Ama Clutch tells Glinda that she witnessed Grommetik kill Doctor Dillamond, which he could only have done on the order of Madame Morrible. After Ama Clutch's funeral, Elphaba, Glinda, and Nessarose are almost convinced by Madame Morrible to become silent pawns of the Wizard, so-called "ambassadors of peace": Elphaba will go east, to Munchkinland; Glinda will go further north in Gillikin; Nessarose will go south, to Quadling Country, with no one going west because few people lived there. All three girls refuse, and when they try to discuss with one another, they are unable because they are bound by a spell that prevents them from discussing Morrible's proposition. Unwilling to remain silent, Elphaba decides that something must be done.

She and Glinda travel to the Emerald City, where they meet the Wizard of Oz and plead the case of the Animals. He dismisses their concerns out of hand, and Glinda and Elphaba are commanded to return to Shiz. However, Elphaba stays behind and sends Glinda back to college, after saying that she cannot see her again; she has decided to take matters into her own hands.

[edit] City of Emeralds
Almost five years have passed since Elphaba has seen Glinda, Boq, or any of her friends from college. She lives in the Emerald City now, and is secretly involved in the movement to help free the Animals and get rid of the Wizard of Oz. Fiyero, now a Prince and with children, comes to the Emerald City to settle business with the politicians there. He sees Elphaba praying to a likeness of St. Glinda.

Fiyero follows her to her home, and they reconnect. He discovers she has started to take up magic, and tells her that Nessa has taken a class in sorcery, and Glinda is now a sorceress, and that they miss Elphaba. She and Fiyero begin to have an illicit love affair, and he neglects his wife Sarima, and his children, Irji, Manek, and Nor. The two lovers are at peace, and despite their occasionally conflicting personalities, Elphaba is actually happy with her life for once.

Her life changes one night, when she can finally fulfill her task: kill Madame Morrible. Fiyero follows her, but she cannot complete her task due to a group of children interfering with Elphaba's line of fire. He returns to her apartment to wait for her, where the Gale Force, the Wizard's secret police force who are looking for Elphaba, attack him. He is kidnapped, hauled away and murdered. Elphaba escapes from the City, and runs to a mauntery, where she meets an elderly woman named Yackle, formerly the dame of the Philosophy Club. Yackle takes the now homeless Elphaba, turned mute from grief after Fiyero's murder, under her wing.

[edit] In the Vinkus
Having been unconscious for almost a year, and then a nun for six more years, Elphaba goes to the Vinkus, the land where Fiyero was prince, and meets his wife and children. Elphaba brings along a boy named Liir, to whom she claims no relation, and stays at the castle Kiamo Ko for a year and a half or so. She attempts to tell Sarima, Fiyero's wife, of their affair, but Sarima refuses, saying she does not want to talk about her late husband. Fiyero's family, Elphaba, and Liir unexpectedly become a family unit, and are joined by Nanny after some time. While staying at the castle, Elphaba also discovers a mysterious book of spells which she calls a 'Grimmerie', and begins to study its contents. However, when Manek, one of Sarima's sons, convinces Liir during a game of hide and seek to hide in a well and leaves him there, Liir nearly dies, and Elphaba's anger at Manek makes an icicle fall on him and kill him. The experience makes Elphaba realize that she has motherly feelings for Liir, but she finds that her newfound warmth is not reciprocated. Liir claims that while in the well a Fish told him he was Fiyero's son. It is later discovered, though not in this book, that Liir is indeed the son of Elphaba and Fiyero. (See "Son of a Witch" by the same author).

Sarima becomes upset and grieves, and the family starts to fall apart. Elphaba gets a letter from her father Frex, asking her to come help him with Nessarose, who has taken Elphaba's position of Eminent Thropp of Munchkinland. When she arrives, he asks her to help him talk to Nessa, whom Elphaba discovers has become a witch, called the Wicked Witch of the East. Elphaba leaves after Nessa promises to give Elphaba the infamous ruby slippers after she dies (Glinda enchanted them to allow her to walk without help). When she returns, she finds everyone gone except Nanny. Nanny explains that the soldiers who were staying in the house made everyone in the town leave except for her.

[edit] The Murder and its Afterlife
A storm visits Munchkinland, dropping a house on Nessa, killing her. The house contains a young girl named Dorothy and a dog named Toto. Glinda, who was nearby, sent Dorothy off with Nessa's shoes for fear of potential civil war in Munchkinland and also for Dorothy's safety. She sent her to the Wizard in hopes that he could send her back to Kansas. Elphaba comes to the funeral for Nessa and is furious with Glinda for giving Dorothy the shoes, which were rightfully hers. She later has a meeting with the Wizard to bargain for the release of Nor, who was taken from Kiamo Ko by the Wizard's army.

On her way back to Kiamo Ko, Elphaba stops at Shiz to kill Madame Morrible, by bashing a trophy on her skull. However, because of Madame Morrible's appearance and lack of reaction, it is impossible to tell if Elphaba did kill her or if she had already died just a few minutes before Elphaba attacked her. At any rate, Elphaba decides to claim to have committed the murder and confess to Avaric. She comes upon the Clock of the Time Dragon, which puts on a special show for her. It shows the Wizard, and not Frex, to be her father.

Some time after returning to Kiamo Ko, Elphaba finds out that Dorothy and a few friends are headed to Kiamo Ko, presumably to kill her. When the friends are almost to the castle, Elphaba (who believed that the Scarecrow was her beloved Fiyero) sends her dog Killyjoy out to lead the friends to the castle. They misunderstand the group of dogs howling toward them and the Tin Woodman kills the dogs. The Scarecrow scares away the crows Elphaba sends next. Elphaba sends her bees, which are killed as well, and Elphaba is forced to believe the Scarecrow is what he seems-just a scarecrow. The shock of this revelation only serves to further unhinge her.

When Dorothy arrives, she tells Elphaba that the Wizard did indeed send her to kill the witch, but Dorothy herself came to apologize for killing her sister. Furious, Elphaba waves her now burning broom in the air and inadvertently sets herself on fire. Innocently, Dorothy throws a bucket of water on her to save her, but instead the water kills her. Dorothy returns to the Wizard with the green potion bottle the wizard used to subdue Elphaba's mother during her conception. Dorothy does not bring back the Grimmerie because it was too heavy. Rumors abound through Oz about the whereabouts of Dorothy (and her irritating dog), few actually believing that she returned to Kansas. The Wizard plans his departure from Oz and his ensuing suicide (which, as revealed in Elphaba's dream after drinking the Green "Miracle" Elixir, is doomed to fail).

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
I plowed through this book. It is an interesting idea and the author is a very capable writer but the story is frustrating, dark and complex. In the end the author seemed less concerned with telling a story and more concerned with writing a difficult novel. ( )
  Tod_Christianson | Feb 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 537 (next | show all)
Although Mr. Maguire demonstrates a knack for conjuring up bizarre adventures for Elphie and introducing her to an eccentric cast of creatures (though nowhere near as enchanting as the many creatures Baum invented in his multiple sequels to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"), his insistence on politicizing Oz and injecting it with a heavy dose of moral relativism turns a wonderfully spontaneous world of fantasy into a lugubrious allegorical realm, in which everything and everyone is labeled with a topical name tag.
With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny and Glinda's snobbish friends make this excursion to Oz worthwhile
added by kthomp25 | editPublisher's Weekly

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory Maguireprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Avirom, JoelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Tis very strange Men should be so fond of being thought wickeder than they are. -Daniel Defoe, A System of Magick
In historical events great men--so called--are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity. -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, War and Peace
"Well," Said the head, "I will give you your answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you." "What must I do?" asked the girl. "Kill the wicked Witch of the West," answered Oz. -L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This book is for Betty Levin and for all those who
taught me to love and fear goodness.
First words
A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.
"Maybe the definition of home is the place where you are never forgiven, so you may always belong there, bound by guilt. And maybe the cost of belonging is worth it."
"Ah, we're slow learners, Nanny countered. But they can't learn at all" (p.12).
"You're not so bold at all," said Elphaba, "you're about as bold as tea made from used leaves" (p.129)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Elphaba, born with emerald green skin, comes of age in the land of Oz, rooming with debutante Glinda at the university, and following a path in life that earns her the label of Wicked.
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.
Haiku summary
A witch is a witch
Not evil - not understood
So men will kill her

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061350966, Mass Market Paperback)

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 be 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:58 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

A fable for adults on the subject of destiny and free will by a writer of children's books. It tells the story of Elphaba before she became the Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz. The novel traces her career as nun, nurse, pro-democracy activist and animal rights defender.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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