Monday, January 02, 2012

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Out Of Oz

I came upon the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West years ago, completely by accident when Cranky Boss Lady's neighbor lent her a copy. CBL was underwhelmed and made it to page 9 one quiet afternoon at the flower shop before giving up. Knowing my voracious appetite for books of all types, she asked me if I wanted to give it a try before she gave it back to her neighbor.

I was dubious--while I read pretty widely, I venture into the realm of "fantasy" titles only rarely. In addition, at the time the book was being offered the hype around the Broadway musical was at an astronomical pitch and that sort of thing tends to be off-putting to my inner contrarian. But it was a really, really quiet afternoon at the flower shop and I was bored with the book I had brought with me so I gave it a shot.

I kind of don't blame CBL for giving up after the first 9 pages. It's a little slow to start, but somewhere shortly after page 9, something happens, not so much in the story at first, but in the hypnotic rhythms of Maguire's language. I was drawn in--seduced even--by Maguire's voice in that first book, which was unlike any I've ever read.

After Wicked, it was eventually on to Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men, each of which I read with a growing sense of amazement: Maguire had somehow made me want to  spend time with talking Animals [sic] and well-worn characters like Dorothy and the Good and Wicked Witches. More surprisingly, he made me actively care about their fates.

Finally, finally, finally comes Out of Oz, the final book in the series, released in November. As with all the books in the series, I was so drawn in to the world Maguire has created (on a foundation laid by Frank Baum, of course, and even to some extent to the 1936 movie version of The Wizard of Oz) that it was sometimes hard to drag myself back to the by-comparison-black-and-white reality of my world.

I am not sure what more I can (or should) say about a book for which I was willing to risk not exactly life, but limb, so I will stop my blathering now and just say if you're looking for something to immerse yourself in, give Wicked a try and see where the Yellow Brick Road leads you.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Satisfied.


  1. My daughter actually got me to read Wicked a while back and I really liked it. Maybe I'll have to give the others a try :)

  2. I had heard of the existence of the series, but not much else. NEver having been a big "Wizard of Oz" fan, I shied away. Might be worth a second look at some point.

  3. I'm convinced! Adding another book to my holds list at the library....

  4. I read the first two books in the series when my son was a newborn. I had the same reaction you did! I couldn't believe how bewitched I was. (Rare intentional pun.) I had to put them down because as you know, having a toddler and a newborn is sometimes surreal enough and I needed to get my head back in the game. If anything, that's a testament to how powerful his writing really is. I think I shall have to attempt to finish the series now. Thanks for this review!

  5. OOOOH--bewitched!!!!!! Wish I'd thought of that! :)

    If anyone of you does read any of the series, I'd love to hear what you think.

  6. On Wicked the book, gotta say, I can't pull my head out of my stack of non fiction and serious fiction to do fantasy. Probably I'll regret that someday (just like I have a brother - Brian, not Mark - who tells me that I will someday regret not learning to play Bridge - a family tradition to which I remain steadfastly opposed). I did see the stage play in SF a couple of years ago and - I don't admit this to many people - I didn't really get it..... but seriously? maybe I just can't get into the fantasy stuff..... I loved Phantom of the Opera though :)

  7. My list of hopefully-one-day reads just grew.

  8. Hate to be a downer, but I read two of the series and I WANTED to love them, but it was like driving toothpicks under my fingernails. I had to force myself to finish Wicked - truly force myself and it was a hard slog for me. Just an example I guess of how writers (particularly those with a really distinct style?) can draw in some, and repel others, I guess. So glad you loved them though - there is nothing better than being bewitched by a book!

  9. Sarah, I was wondering if I would hear from someone who hadn't enjoyed them because I think you're right about the distinct styles especially being a love it or hate it type thing. I haven't talked to anyone who's read the books who's just lukewarm about them.

    Hubby tried Wicked years ago and had pretty much the same reaction you did. Son-Two read the first three and asked for the fourth for Christmas. Because it is so different, it's definitely not going to appeal to everyone.