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The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

By Sharone Goldman in Arts & Culture

“Wicked”, by Gregory Maguire, is most commonly associated with its Broadway counterpart. The musical, an endearing story about the unlikely friendship between a gawky, fierce, green-skinned girl and a ditsy socialite is one of the most popular shows on Broadway. The musical takes the premise of “what happened before Dorothy dropped in” in the magnificent Land of Oz. It refutes the assumptions many of us have made about the “Wicked Witch of the West”, played by Margaret Hamilton.

What many people don’t know is that it was actually based off of a book called “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” This book, simply put, is phenomenal. It is much darker than the musical, and incredibly thought-provoking. Extremely satirical, and thus in a way disturbing, it’s truly worth your while.

I am hesitant to give away details about this book, because in truth nothing I say can justify the story. You just have to read it. Part of what makes this book amazing is all the twists and surprises. It includes revolution, protest, genocide, a dictator, and the world of Oz as you know it is a much darker, scarier place. It is a tragedy, but also in many ways the story of an empowering triumph.

What I liked so much about this book is that it screamed “knowledge.” I can tell just from reading it that the author spends a lot of his time simply thinking. Most of this book, in fact, iz questioning, with no right or wrong answer, but simply conflicted views. None of the characters are absolutely “wicked” or purely good. I think that Gregory Maguire chose these two women “The Wicked Witch of the West” and “Galinda the Good” to explore what these traits truly mean. There is a lot of politics to it, as well as religion. Despite whatever you believe, the way this book questions and tests all aspects of society is truly enthralling.

What I love about reading is that you can go anywhere, and do anything, in the World of a Book without leaving your chair. Maguire’s novel does just that. The Kirkus Reviews said, “Save a place on the shelf between Alice and The Hobbit- that spot is well deserved.” I have read countless books in my life, and indeed, Wicked has been just as striking as many of the classics we read today.

The inevitably cold weather is bound to stick around for a few more months, and when you find yourself wishing for a good book to read, curled up in a blanket next to the fireplace, look no further.

For more information on the author and further books he has written, please refer to

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