Category: wicked

Son of a Witch

Last night I finally finished reading Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire.

I read Wicked a few years ago, and I was a little disappointed with it. I wanted it to be more plot and character based, I guess. So I never read Son of a Witch, thinking I would probably feel the same about it. Then, Maguire’s new book, A Lion Among Men came out and I decided I wanted to read it, so I bought Son of a Witch to read first.

I loved it. A lot more than Wicked. I think that it struck the right balance between being beautifully written and good plot, while Wicked was mostly just really well written, but not necessarily a page turner.

Another big difference for me, I think, was that I sort of love the main character, Liir. He’s so screwed up, it’s so entertaining. And you actually watch him grow up in the shadow of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and possibly his mother, throughout the book.

I don’t know what I can say about it, I think it will be more effective to put my favourite lines down and let it speak for itself.

“Perhaps he just didn’t have the feeling for faith. It seemed to be a kind of language, one whose gnarled syntax needed to be heard from birth, or it remained forever intelligible.”

“‘Well, Scarecrow, your turn. What’ll you do with your brains?’ ‘I’m thinking about it,’”

“Candle was not simple, not in the least, but her debility had made her a still person. She listened to church bells, when they pealed, trying to translate; she watched the way the paper husks of an onion fell on a table, and examined the rings of dirt that onion mites had life in parrallel rows on the glossy wet inside. Everything said something, and it wasn’t her job to consider the merit or even the meaning of the message: just to witness the fact of that message.”

“A notion of character, not so much discredited as simply forgotten, once held that people only came into themselves partly through their lives. They woke up, were lucky enough to have consciousness, in the act of doing something they already knew how to do: feeing themselves with currants. Walking the dog. Knotting up a broken bootlace. Singing antiphonally in the choir. Suddenly: This is I, I am the girl singing this alto line off-key, I am the boy loping after the dog, and I can see myself doing it as, presumably, the dog cannot see itself.”

“A capacity for interiority in the growing adult is threatened by the temptation to squander that capacity ruthlessly, to revel in hollowness. The syndrome especially plagues anyone who lives behind a mask…. A hundred ways to duck the question: how will I live with myself now that I know what I know?”

“By force of personality, by dint of their vicious beauty and untamed ways, children tromp into the world ready to disfigure it. Children surrender nothing when faced with the world: it is the world that gives up, over and over again. Dying in order to live, that sort of thing.”

“‘I didn’t cause you to live or die,’ she said. ‘Don’t give me credit for skills beyond me. I played music; you remembered. Music will do that. What you remembered - that was within you, and nothing to do with me.’”

“Wisdom is not the understanding of mystery, she said to herself, not for the first time. Wisdom is accepting that mystery is beyond understanding. That’s what makes it mystery.”

“I loved it when I was alive, too. Forget us, forget us all, it makes no difference now, but don’t forget that we loved it when we were live.”

The only qualm I had with Son of a Witch is that the ending didn’t answer all of my questions, but hopefully they’ll be answered in A Lion Among Men.