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The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory Maguire

This is going to be a complicated review, so bear with me.  I had certain expectations for this book when I started reading it which greatly tainted my opinion when it failed to stack up.  Let me start there.

I thought it was going to be The Wizard of Oz told through the point of view of the Wicked Witch.  It was not.  For one thing, it covered more time, starting before the Wicked Witch was born (didn’t bother me).  For another, it altered the personalities of the Oz characters (bothered me very much).  Lastly, it wasn’t even in the POV of the Wicked Witch for the entire book!  Come on “the life and times of…” you would think it would be written like a biography, but no.  Some of the book I really enjoyed, and other parts I REALLY didn’t, which makes it very had to assign a point value, but I’ll do my best to describe everything without spoilers.

The opening scene
HATED it.  The opening scene fit my assumption of the book… ish.  It starts with the Wicked Witch spying on the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, Dorothy, and the Scarecrow, but I had trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to accept that my beloved Oz characters would use the language the Witch accuses them of using as she eaves drops which in many ways voided the validity of the rest of the story.

Gregory cuts to a flashback…

The Early Years
I enjoyed this part of the story very much.  It was well written with the occasional obscure word thrown in.  I was flipping pages and soaking it up, excited and fascinated learning about Elphaba (the to-be Wicked Witch), her parents, and her childhood.

The school years
Everything was rolling along.  I had almost forgiven Gregory for ruining the original Oz characters in his interpretation… and then I got to this part.   This is where I completely lost interest in the book and had to take a break.  Entire chapters of the book where written in the POV of other characters, scenes where Elphaba wasn’t even present.  While I don’t mind sex scenes in my books (preferably when I’m reading romance, but I don’t mind it slipping into my other genres) erotica level sex scenes that do not progress the story at all do not belong outside of erotica novels and I was mortified to find them in this section.  On the off chance I want to read something that graphic, I have to be in the right mood, not blind-sighted by it.

I’ve put the book down for now as I’ve lost interest in it, but I don’t want to give it a ranking until I’ve finished it, so even though I’ve now started In Leah’s Wake, I’m reserving further judgement until I complete the novel.


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