Book Review: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

WickedTitle: Wicked
Author: Gregory Maguire
Published: 1995
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 432
From: Barnes and Noble

Everyone knows the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, but what I like about Gregory Maguire’s version is it’s not so simplified to good and evil. Shades of grey are part of reality, and the Witch is one of those shades of grey.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire was published in 1995 as a parallel novel to L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is the first in a series of four known as “The Wicked Years,” which also includes Son of a Witch, A Lion Among MenĀ and Out of Oz.

I read Wicked when I was still in high school, but had forgotten most of the book since then. I then saw the musical in Chicago with my mom, sister and aunt, and loved what they did with the storyline. I don’t love the book, but I loved how interesting and lifelike the story was.

Maguire gave Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, a life. He made her a person with wants and needs, someone who becomes a voice of her time in college and after. She has friends and lovers, acquaintances and enemies. She even has a son, who is part of the sequel. By giving such a distinctly infamous character a life, it brings out what is really important to her, rather than what we see in the film The Wizard of Oz.

I enjoyed the voice and unusual circumstances the characters find themselves in throughout the novel. It was hard for me to dislike anything going on. Maguire takes points of the original novel and twists them to his liking, making things more exciting and, in some cases, adult.

What I wasn’t expecting, especially the second time around, was how sexual the novel was. It was never unnecessary sexuality because it explained plot and developed character, it was just an unexpected part of the book. I thought occasionally it was too constant, but at the same time I never thought Maguire should take those parts out because he made them seem natural to the story.

Also, I felt a little bogged down by some of the little details. I like when authors add little details because it makes the reader feel more surrounded by the story, but sometimes authors can add too much to a story that it makes it thick and hard to wade through. This didn’t happen throughout the entire novel, but it did occasionally.

However, overall I enjoyed this book. It was a great change of pace, and is definitely a great fantasy read for adults.

Wicked, and Gregory Maguire’s other novels such as Mirror, Mirror, are available at Barnes and Noble and

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