At this point, dear readers, we should all be very familiar with the Wicked Witch of the West. You know, the green one. That mean lady with the pointy nose and chin that wanted to take Dorothy’s beautiful ruby (or silver) slippers. I was first introduced to her in 1991, when my Aunt Jo (who is very adept in makeup) went as the WWW for Halloween and scared me so badly I hid under my grandma’s kitchen table. I still haven’t forgotten the pea green face and the terrible cackle.
In Gregory Maguire’s much acclaimed Wicked (on which the famous musical is based) we finally get to hear the witch’s side of the story. In fact, Dorothy (that little shoe-snatching swine) doesn’t even come in until the very last couple of chapters. We learn that “Elphaba” has lived and loved just like the rest of us and not only is she iron-willed in her convictions, she’s also not abnormally malicious. She simply has the power to think very hard and sometimes bad things happen to her enemies. Oh… The people who would be injured if that were the case…
But, I digress.
Wicked was quite a bit more politically-based than I ever had anticipated, almost to a point where I couldn’t tolerate it. Everything was about different races and their territories, power struggles, Animal (with a capital ‘A’) rights, political double-dealing, and intrigue. But even my description of it makes it sound more interesting than it really was. It was, actually, not that wicked. In fact, it was kinda boring.
(It surprised me that Wicked was only written in 1990, because Maguire’s prose and dialogue read much much older.)
In the beginning of the story, when Elphaba came out green–born to two noticeably not green parents–it was obviously a bit of a shock. Things moved along quickly and her very immoral mother paired with her religiously zealous father made quite an interesting duo. But after her teenage years spent at a girl’s boarding college, the plot slowed down substantially. I mean… I enjoyed going “Oh hey! That’s Glinda the Good Witch” or “Oh hey! That’s how the flying monkeys got started!” but it wasn’t nearly enough to carry the whole book.
If I’m going to read about the WWW, I expect dastardly deeds and malicious acts. And fine, she’s not all that dastardly. I expect some dirty sex scenes at least! What really made her bad? I don’t get it. She was a silent nun under a vow of silence for seven years! Give me a break!
2 pointy black hats of 5
(Oh, and coincidentally, the Kindle file I read also contained The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I didn’t really care for that either. So sue me!)