I Rank ALL of Gregory Maguire's Novels Because I Have Too Much Time on My Hands
Happy June! Happy Pride! I can’t believe it’s already June; it has been March 2020 in my mind for the past year. Time truly is a construct and means nothing anymore.
Existentialism aside, I have a fun post for you all this week. As it is almost the birthday of Gregory Maguire, AKA one of my all-time favorite authors, I decided to rank each and every one of his novels. Yes that’s right, I have read every single book in Maguire’s canon. Or at least in his adult canon because that’s what I’m going to be ranking. It’s a literary extravaganza today!
Let’s meet the contestants vying for the title of Best Gregory Maguire Book According to this Rando on the Internet! Starting us off we have The Wicked Years: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995); Son of a Witch (2005); A Lion Among Men (2008); Out of Oz (2011). Then we have the standalone novels: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999); Lost (2001); Mirror, Mirror (2003); The Next Queen of Heaven (2010); After Alice (2015); Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker (2017); and finally, A Wild Winter Swan (2020).
The only book in Maguire’s adult canon that is missing from the list is 2012’s Tales Told in Oz. Tales Told in Oz is a collection of short stories set in the Wicked universe. I am only ranking Maguire’s novels. Also it is incredibly hard to find this one. I can’t get it on Amazon, nor at Barnes and Noble; therefore it does not exist.
So what am I ranking these books on? This tier list is solely based on how much I liked the book or not. I guess, I’ll take the quality of the novel into account as well, and the likability of the characters. But I'm mainly being selfish and ranking them on how much I liked them. Don’t be offended when your favorite isn’t mine. Now let’s get down to business and rank some books!
11. A Lion Among Men: The third entry of The Wicked Years is kicking off the tier list in last place. Outside of the book being super political, I don’t remember much about this one. The Lion? Forgettable. The plot? Forgettable. My liking of this book? Nonexistent. If you’re reading the Wicked series, skip this one. Next book please.
10. After Alice: Truthfully, the main reason this book is this low on the list is because of my dislike of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’ve never understood it’s appeal. The language of Lewis Carroll’s book, and in turn Maguire’s take on Wonderland, gives me a headache. I enjoyed what Maguire did with Alice’s older sister having to find her missing sister, but aside from that part of the plot, I didn’t care much for what went on in After Alice.
9. Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker: This is another novel of Maguire’s that is just forgettable. Sorry. I remember more about this one than I do with A Lion Among Men, but what I do remember is just dull. I didn’t find myself really enjoying the novel until the last few chapters, and at that point it was too late, the book was over. Hiddensee ranks this high because it was not as insufferable to me as the prior two works were.
8. Lost: Now, I know this one is probably the worst rated/liked out of all of Maguire's novels. But hear me out, this is the first novel of Maguire’s that was not based on a fairy tale. Sure, he does use A Christmas Carol as a jumping off point, but this is no retelling. This is something new and strictly from Maguire’s mind; I respect that. Lost is nowhere near the best novel Maguire has written, but he tried to do something different, and that’s why it ranks this high.
7. A Wild Winter Swan: The newest novel in Maguire’s canon brings us into the middle of this list. The main character, Laura, is a character I can see myself in. I too am an introverted young woman who often times finds herself alone. Despite the fact I can relate a lot to the main character, I find this novel to just be fine. Maguire is in his element by creating a retelling of “The Wild Swans,” but I don’t find this one to be anything amazing.
6. Son of a Witch: The Wicked Years are definitely the most well-known of Maguire’s works, and they were my introduction to him. The Wicked Years certainly have a tiny nostalgia factor bumping them up on the list. Not much, but some. Son of a Witch is an all-around good book. I really can’t find much wrong with it. The characters are lively and well-rounded. The plot is a great continuation of Wicked. There isn’t anything bad about this one, it’s just not my favorite.
5. Mirror, Mirror: Much like A Wild Winter Swan, this novel shows Maguire in his element. I greatly enjoy Maguire’s fairy tale retellings, and this one is no different. The Evil Queen from Snow White has always been an interesting character to me, and Maguire’s Mirror, Mirror is right up my alley since there is such a heavy focus on her character. This one is still not my favorite though. Not much wrong with it, a good book all-around, but still not favorite. I think I'll re-read this one again soon; just for fun.
4. Out of Oz: Talk about a satisfying conclusion! I love Out of Oz. It brings back some great characters from the entirety of the Wicked series along with some awesome new ones. I’m a big fan of the plot with the all its jailbreaks, transformations, runaways, and fair amount of well done political intrigue. I’m rarely satisfied with series finales, but this is a good one.
3. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West: Is anyone surprised that Wicked makes the top three? Let’s be honest, no one is. Wicked is just that good. It has iconic characters, a plot that keeps readers on their toes, and just some gorgeous imagery. This book belongs at the top, and everyone knows it. But there are two others that rank above it.
2. The Next Queen of Heaven: Out of all of Maguire’s work, I would say this is his least known novel and it deserves better! It deserves some attention! Like Lost, Maguire breaks from his norm and instead creates something completely new, but this time he knocks it out of the park. Religion, class divides, unrequited love, LGBTQIA+ issues, children taking care of their parents; this book has a lot. There was so much going on, yet it all ties back together and somehow wraps up into a nice bow. I seriously love this book. I read it for the first time only a few weeks ago, but it has captured my mind and heart.
1. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: And finally, bringing us in at number one, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister wins the title of Best Gregory Maguire Book According to this Rando on the Internet! This has been one of my favorite books for a long, long time. I’ve liked this book since high school. I’m in my 20’s so I am very old now, and this one has remained at the top of my favorite books. The first time I read it, it blew my mind. I totally thought one stepsister was the narrator, but then it turned out the be the other one, and like I said, my mind was blown. I could not put this one down! Maguire is in his element. He knew what he was doing, and he wrote a knockout of a book.
Well, I hope you took a shot every time I included the word “knockout,” and I hope you enjoyed my ranking. If you too have read all of Maguire’s work then let me know how you rank them.
Until next time, stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask if you aren't vaccinated yet, and read some good books for me.