As a child, The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorite movies. I loved all of the magic and wonder in the world of Oz. When I saw Wicked by Gregory Maguire at the bookstore, I felt compelled to buy it . I knew that there was a Broadway musical by the same name, about The Wicked Witch of the West, but I had no idea that it was adapted from a novel. I delved right into almost as soon as I bought the book, and I absolutely loved it. Wicked follows Elphaba, or more commonly known as The Wicked Witch of the West through her life, from birth, until the events of The Wizard of Oz. I’ve always been a huge fan of origin stories for the antagonists, Maleficent being one of my favorites. I always enjoy complex characters and I was curious about how The Wicked Witch became so Wicked.
From the very start Elphaba was born green, much to her parents dismay. Due to her skin color, she was often ostracized and isolated by everyone around her, including her mom. I immediately empathized with Elphaba, something that I’d never thought I could do for the Wicked Witch. Personally, one of my favorite parts of this novel was all of the extensive knowledge I learned about the world of Oz. Apparently, there are several different regions, such as The Vinkus, Quadling Country, and The Glikkus, most of which were visited at some point in the novel. I also learned more about the politics in Oz, for instance it was ruled by a royal family before the Wizard came into power and there were animals and Animals. The former just being regular animals and the latter being animals that can walk and talk, who are fighting to become equal citizens. I thought that this aspect added more intrigue to that world, and everything about it seemed to be intricate and full of immense detail.
While the setting was intricate and full of magical imagery, it was the characters that really brought it to life. We meet several familiar characters, such as Glinda, Nessarose (Wicked witch of the East) and several others. However, there are several new characters that the book introduce. Despite this book being about Elphaba, the book follows several other point of view characters, such as Melena (Elphaba’s mom), Glinda, Boq (one of the students that Elphaba goes to school with), and many more. While I was surprised to see so many point of view characters besides Elphaba, I liked how they all contributed to the story surrounding her. Each part of the novel seemed to involve her in some way. The story takes place within a large span of years, and through that time we as readers learn about the political climate and current events of Oz. As the years go on Elphaba gets more involved in politics. I found it interesting to see how these events all lead up to The Wizard of Oz, as we see a misunderstood character become a classic villain.
I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of The Wizard of Oz. T Anyone who enjoys that musical Wicked might also enjoy this book. After reading this I found myself listening to “Defying Gravity” multiple times. This novel portrays a more complex and vulnerable side of The Wicked Witch, a character I found myself sympathizing with throughout the novel. This time of year is a great time to read a long book, because the weather is getting colder and one of my favorite hobbies is to curl up with a good book while drinking a pumpkin spiced latte. Wicked portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West in a more sympathetic manner. I felt like I was reintroduced to the World of Oz as the setting was intricate and full of detail and vivid imagery. Wicked is one of many villain origin novels by Gregory Maguire. The other’s include Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Mirror Mirror.