Even when you’re really, really good at something, you have to take a break every now and then to cleanse, reorganize and reset. Maguire is well on his way to being an “important” author whose work will be read and loved by my kids as much as I did. But anyone looking for another recasting of a fairy tale from Gregory Maguire’s “The Next Queen of Heaven” will find themselves disappointed.
It’s not that the book isn’t good. It is. Very. What it is is that it’s different enough that some portion of his readership will look to this book as an aberration, a speed bump along the way that he’s charted for us with the Wicked series and his reimagining on Snow White and other tales. The fact is, it’s not.
Macguire’s characters are every bit as removed from this world as any fairy tale. It’s just that moving his setting into the twentieth-about-to-be-twenty-first century, he’s stepped away from the almost hidebound world of castles, royalty and epic time scales and concentrated on doing what he’s always done … Tell stories that look at the nature of love, and how obligation, commitment, fear and longing all play in to making us who we are.