“Son of a Witch”
by Gregory Maguire
Read by the author
Produced by Harper Audio (2005)
Approx 14.5 hours

I still haven’t had the chance to see “Wicked” the musical, but I couldn’t just stop after reading the book.  I found Gregory Maguire had written two sequels to the book so I thought I would get going on that aspect of the story.   So here it is I’ve just finished “Son of a Witch” and have found the story to be interesting but didn’t seem to close out the story.  In the interview at the end of the audiobook the author says he doesn’t have any plans to come up with another book in the spin off from the world of the Wizard of Oz.  But it seems as though this book screams for a sequel.  In that same interview Maguire says he got the idea from two sources; the numerous letters from young female fans who wondered what happened to Nor (daughter of the witch) and after seeing the torture photos from Abu Gharib prison.  The problem with this is that this book seems to leave even more questions about what happened to Nor,  although the prison scene is in the book.

This audiobook is read by the author and after reading stories (he also writes children’s stories) to children he has honed his craft of quality voice acting.  Maguire delivers the story probably the way it should be, the voices all sound as he intended so you get more depth to the characters.  His delivery is perfect for the story and the different characters come across well defined.  Keep in mind this is a story from the “Land of Oz” so there are some interesting characters such as,  a talking Goose, a Phoenix and an Elephant disguised as a human princess.  Each one comes across just as you and the author would think they should sound.

The first section of the book consists of a series of flashbacks that jump back to after the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba) is killed by Dorothy and Liir (the Son of the Witch) accompanies her and her band (Scarecrow, Tinman, Lion and Toto to) back to the Wizard, and the “present” when Liir’s body is found along the roadside thought to be another victim of “The Scrapings.”  Citizens are found dead with their faces scraped off by some mysterious force.  When Liir is found to be still alive he is brought back to the Cloister of Saint Glinda in the Shale Shallows. The Superior Maunt recognizes the young man and identifies him as Liir, the young boy who left the Cloister with Elphaba a decade or so ago.

In the “present” time Liir is brought back to health by A Quadling girl, Candle who rarely speaks, and only in her native tongue, Qua’ati (though she understands other speech). Raised in Ovvels, she and some relatives became itinerants. She is left at the Cloister of Saint Glinda by her uncle, and ends up working in the kitchen under Sister Cook. She becomes a skilled player on the domingon, a Quadling musical instrument which sounds like it closely resembles a lute.  When a phoenix plucks one of its own feathers to give to Candle and place in the domingon, the instrument seems to be complete, and Candle is able to “play” Liir Back to health  by making him remember his past.

Candle and Liir are forced to leave the Mauntery and seek shelter in an abandoned farm which also served once as a press for an underground newspaper.  Liir then learns he must go back to Oz and destroy the dragons, reclaim his broom and cape (which belonged to his mother) and guide the Council of Birds to Safety.  In the process Liir learns his uncle Shel is now the Emperor of Oz and is running a corrupt government.  The big lesson for Liir in this is that the he cannot simply sit back and let the world go by, he must take part in it in order to make change.

The story remains very interesting and entertaining, but I feel the book was not complete.  I guess that’s why Maguire wrote the sequel “A Lion Among Men,” which is on my summer reading list.

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