WICKED: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Gregory Maguire, , read by John McDonough. . Harper Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-057376-8
With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny and Glinda's snobbish friends make this excursion to Oz worthwhile.
Reviewed on: 12/01/2003