Title: Son of a Witch (Sequel to previously reviewed Wicked)
Author: Gregory Maguire
Year of Publication: 2006
Length: 329 pages; small font, large book, not a quick read.
Rating: 4/5 – Worth paying full price.
Warning: There are spoilers for Wicked in this review.
Son of a Witch is the sequel to the popular novel Wicked, and came out ten years after Wicked’s publication. This book stars an older Liir, though still a young adult, who is never quite sure if he is, in fact, the son of Elphaba. He knows that he’s been with her since he was a small child, and that she may be the closest thing to a mother that he’s ever had. Anyone who has read Wicked knows that Liir is Elphaba’s son, though she never recognized it or really thought about it.
His main goal for part of the book is to rescue a girl named Nor, who was his half sister (they had the same father), and was taken away with the rest of the family by soldiers. He believes her to be in Emerald city, and so starts out on his journey there.
In Emerald city, he ends up in a huge dungeon (on his own free will), thinking that she may be held there. He’s accompanied by Shell, who is Elphaba’s younger brother, a character that didn’t get any sort of development in Wicked. He’s a perverted man who claims to provide services to the female inmates of the dungeon, and it takes Liir a while to figure out what those services actually are, and that they’re only wanted by Shell.
In the dungeons, Liir finds mostly sorrow and rotting bodies, those of both Animals and people. In one particularly disturbing scene, there’s a female Pig who has just given birth to a Piglet. A worker is there immediately to snatch it up and take away the Pig’s only hope of having something that may bring her even an inkling of happiness.
In the end, Liir finds out that Nor was there at some point, but either made a daring escape, or has been killed and he was too late. He does find some help in the city from characters from the previous book, like Glinda, and the women at the monastery where Elphaba had stayed while she was pregnant.
In the monastery, where he was brought unconscious after a long journey, there is a young girl named Candle who everyone thinks is dumb and mute. She is not, however, and can also play a beautiful instrument that has healing powers. She heals Liir, who had been unconscious, and they live together for a time in hiding.
By the end of the book, it’s not clear if Liir had found what he was looking for. It’s clear only that he did not know what he was looking for, and then found something else that could either prove to be further disturbing to his life, or be a joy.
While Son of a Witch doesn’t provide quite the same satisfying punch that Wicked did, it is equally as dark and disturbing, with unexpected characters making odd choices, and people unabashedly doing evil things to others. Elphaba is like a shadow throughout the book; there are pieces of her here and there, like a piece of graffiti that Liir sees that says “Elphaba Lives”, but her life didn’t have the positive affect on the world that she had hoped. Oz is simply too warped and twisted, though perhaps the new character at the very end can change it. In order to not give away spoilers, I’ll simply say that it could lead to a third book.