In this captivating New York Times bestseller, beloved author Gregory Maguire returns to the land of Oz and introduces us to Liir, an adolescent boy last seen hiding in the shadows of the castle after Dorothy did in the Witch. Is he really Elphaba's son? He has her broom and her cape-but what of her powers? In an Oz that, since the Wizard's departure, is under new and dangerous management, can Liir keep his head down long enough to grow up?
The death of Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West, brings about spectacular changes in this masterfully imaginative sequel to Maguire's 1995 blockbuster Wicked --most notably, the startling possibility that Elphaba had a son. Scattered among the ruins of great portions of Emerald City, many residents have been skinned and bloodied, supposedly by the barbaric Yunamatas. Travel caravan leader Oatsie Manglehand stumbles upon the body of an unknown young man, badly beaten but still alive. She presents him to the wise Superior Maunt, who recognizes the hurt boy as Liir, rumored to be the dead Witch's secreted son. A mute waif named Candle revives him with her haunting, ethereal music and hidden affections. Meanwhile, Maguire supplies alternating chapters of extensive, mesmerizing backstory of Liir's boyhood, from the witch's watery demise, to the trek to the Wizard's Castle with Dorothy and company, his search for the imprisoned princess Nor, and a long stint in the Munchkinland Army, all while donning his mother's black cape and clutching her magic broom handle. Along the way, a headspinning cast of vividly described, eccentric characters emerges, but nothing prepares Liir for Candle's shocking surprise announcement. Tucked into Maguire's enchanting fable are carefully calibrated object lessons in forgiveness, retribution, love, loss and the art of moving on despite tragic circumstances. Ten years after Wicked (which is still on Broadway), fans will once again be clicking their heels with wonderment. (Sept. 27) Copyright 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 26, 2006
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Excerpt from Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
The House of Saint Glinda
So the talk of random brutality wasn't just talk. At noontime they discovered the bodies of three young women, out on some mission of conversion that appeared to have gone awry. The novice maunts had been strangled by their ropes of holy beads, and their faces removed.
Her nerve being shaken at last, Oatsie Manglehand now caved in to the demands of her paying customers. She told the team drivers they'd pause only long enough to dig some shallow graves while the horses slaked their thirst. Then the caravan would press on across the scrubby flats known, for the failed farmsteads abandoned here and there, as the Disappointments.
Moving by night, at least they wouldn't make a sitting target, though they might as easily wander into trouble as sidestep it. Still, Oatsie's party was antsy. Hunker down all night and wait for horse hoofs, spears Too hard on everyone. Oatsie consoled herself: If the caravan kept moving, she could sit forward with her eyes peeled, out of range of the carping, the second-guessing, the worrying.
With the benefit of height, therefore, Oatsie spotted the gully before anyone else did. The cloudburst at sunset had fed a small trackside rivulet that flowed around a flank of skin, water-lacquered in the new moonlight. An island, she feared, of human flesh.
I ought to turn aside before the others notice, she thought; how much more can they take There is nothing I can do for that human soul. The digging of another trench would require an hour, minimum. An additional few moments for prayers. The project would only further agitate these clients as they obsess about their own precious mortality.
Upon the knee of the horizon balanced the head of a jackal moon, so-called because, once every generation or so, a smear of celestial flotsam converged behind the crescent moon of early autumn. The impact was creepy, a look of a brow and a snout. As the moon rounded out over a period of weeks, the starveling would turn into a successful hunter, its cheeks bulging.
Always a fearsome sight, the jackal moon tonight spooked Oatsie Manglehand further. Don't stop for this next casualty. Get through the Disappointments, deliver these paying customers to the gates of the Emerald City.But she resisted giving in to superstition. Be scared of the real jackals, she reminded herself, not frets and nocturnal portents.