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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire 
18th-Dec-2007 09:41 pm
Maguire, Gregory. Son of a Witch. New York: ReaganBooks, 2005.
          Summary: Liir follows Dorothy into the Emerald City in pursuit of the missing Nor. He loses her trail after her daring escape from Southstairs and instead joins the Home Guard. Slow realization that he is not working for good in the Quadling Country, however, drives him back to Kiamo Ko, where he learns of a Conference of the Birds. On his way to the Conference, he is attacked by dragons and taken to the mauntery where he was born, Candle nursing him back from the brink and conceiving a child with him in the process. Liir then dispatches the dragons, gets it on with the dragon tamer, finds himself a familiar, and returns to Apple Press Farm to discover his newborn daughter. Who is green.
          Comments: The musical is better than the novel. Wow, now that's a sentence I don't get to write that often. But it's true. In spades. And suffice it to say that Son of a Witch is even weaker a "literary" endeavor than Wicked. I won't tell you how long it took me to notice the inane pun in the title on a mild expletive...but after you take in the faux Victorian fantasy artwork on the cover, it's all downhill there, and you'll soon be thinking up even less flattering alternate names for this crass attempt to capitalize on a previous commercial success.
          As I had predicted in my Wicked review awhile back, Liir grows up to be a sorry excuse for a gay (or is that bi?) man who nonetheless gets the handsome dragon tamer. Of course, Maguire uses appropriately circumspect language for his main character's sexual encounters; God forbid Judith Reagan take on any scandal-mongering authors! *ahem* Liir's primary squeeze throughout most of the book, however, is an arguably underaged girl named Candle who, mortifyingly enough, literally has no say when it comes to the rest of the world. She's a nice, nonthreatening support/mother figure--especially when compared to Elphaba, who takes even more digs in this book for being a parental failure. Methinks the author still has unresolved mother issues.
          You know, it never ceases to amaze me how good Maguire is, in both his children's and adult fiction careers, at sucking every last little ounce of wonder out of classic fairytales. What happened to the enchantment, the mystery, the affective power? Frank L. Baum's world was even more wonderful--and, at times, challenging--than it appears on the surface; Maguire, meanwhile, turns it into a bizarrely banal frontier zone rife with religious fundamentalism, political tyranny, and ethnic tension. Oh c'mon, what's so special about all that? That I can get my fill of in the real world! Why in the heck would I want it in Oz as well?
          Notes: hardcover, first edition, 5th printing
          Rating: 4.5/10 - The author does nothing here that could not have done more effectively in a different context...and, dammit, it's not all that enjoyable a read, period!
19th-Dec-2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Ah Maquire...I like his fanfics.
19th-Dec-2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
Honestly? I'd be more likely to say "Mary Sue" than "fanfic." (Or whatever they're calling that if it's a guy.)
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