This month we’re reading Wicked, written by author Gregory Maguire. It follows the life and historical demise of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. The story is set in the a new version of Oz far from the warm and fuzzy rendition we’re used to. Originally published in 1995, the book is now a full series. I had only heard of the musical first. As a student at a performing arts school, “Defy Gravity” and Idina Menzel were my only references to the character of “Elfaba”. That being said i must now admit i have also never seen the full musical but I have captured scenes of it off on Youtube.
The series has been on my To Read list since 2005, and finally a full decade later I can say i’ve cracked the spine of a borrowed copy from a co-worker. I will be adding the musical to my must watch list but for now let’s get to the book. “Wicked”, is nothing like it’s L. Frank Bean’s, “Wizard of Oz” and is in fact more like a prequel to the adventure of Dorothy and Friends. Our protagonist is, Elfaba the so-called “Wicked” witch in a time of civil unrest in Oz. The heroes we love, like Glinda and even the Wizard are given darker overturns as the novel challenges you to pick a side.
The opening scene brings us in the midst of a conversation between Dorothy and friends on their familiar voyage through the woods during “The Wizard of Oz”. Elfaba is concealed in a tree spying as they quite explicitly gossip about her origins. This mature adaptation of a childhood classic definitely lays the foundations for readers to quickly abandon memories of Judy Garland cradling her frightened Cairn Terrier , (yes that’s the specific breed of dog TOTO was.) and places you in the ruby red slippers of one of fiction’s greatest villains.
For more on the Wicked Witch of the West, check out the full article on our Origins blog!