Picks and Pans Review: Son of a Witch

updated 10/03/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/03/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Gregory Maguire

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A decade after Wicked, Maguire's bestselling backstory to The Wizard of Oz, the author revisits the Emerald City and life after the demise of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Now ruled by the ineffectual Glinda the Good Witch, Oz is awash in corruption and everyday cruelty: The sentient Animals once championed by Elphaba continue to be enslaved or eaten, while young human residents are savagely murdered to suppress dissent. Amid the anarchy a badly beaten young man, rumored to be Elphaba's son, arrives; once healed, he sets out to learn the truth of his own identity—and perhaps to redeem the beleaguered realm.

Maguire's captivating, fully imagined world of horror and wonder illuminates the links between good and evil, retribution and forgiveness and the banal decisions that lead to casual brutality. Although in Oz graffitied walls declare that Happy Endings Are Still Endings, Maguire cannily—and happily for readers—leaves open the door for a return to the magical kingdom.

NONFICTION

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