This week’s feature is a bit of a throwback for me. I absolutely loved these books when I was in high school, and after have rediscovered them recently I’m thinking I might do a re-read soon. As you can tell from the picture, these books have been well loved. I’ve read the first 2 volumes (4 books) about 4 times each- the most I have ever re-read any books in my entire life.
The Wicked series (no relation to Gregory Maguire’s) tells the story of Holly Cathers and her cousins Amanda and Nicole, who find themselves suddenly thrown into the world of witchcraft and at the center of a deadly feud that dates back centuries.
I think what really captivated me about these books was the amount of research that so clearly went into them. Rather than being entirely imagined, the witchcraft is based on traditional Wiccan practices. I realize, of course, that not all Wiccans practice witchcraft and vice-versa, and to my memory the books make no claims that the characters themselves are Wiccan, but much of the premise of the book’s witchcraft came from the authors’ interviews with a Wiccan shaman. The point is, a lot of work went into ensuring that the culture of witchcraft within these books would be extensive and all encompassing, so it is easy to allow yourself to be immersed in the Cather’s world. When I was first reading them I was so captivated by the magic and the intricacies of the witchcraft that I was genuinely distressed over the fact that it wasn’t real. I wanted so badly to be a part of their world. When I was reading these I had not yet read Harry Potter, so it was sort of my version of realizing I would never get my Hogwarts letter (which made that heartbreak a few years later just that much worse).
Another thing I really loved about these books is how complex the characters are. There is so much character development across the series, so you would never be able to guess where everyone ends up by the end. The authors do a really fantastic job of showing the toll that the events of the books have on each of the characters; none of them survive unscathed or unchanged. The books get quite dark, so I was pleased that the experiences had realistic effects on the characters forced to endure them. The characters are also realistic in their flaws and imperfections. It drives me crazy when a main character seems to magically always knows the right thing to do. The characters in these books are forced to make terrible, impossible decisions, and while they always make their choices with the best of intentions, they do not always make the best choice, and even when they do those choices still have consequences, some of them fatal.
Oh man writing about these books has me wanting to re-read them really bad. They are really fantastic and I would highly encourage any fantasy lover to check them out. Unfortunately I doubt you’ll see these hanging out in bookstores anymore, but you can still find them online!
Has anyone else read these books? Did you love them as much as I did? And if you haven’t, have I convinced you to give them a try? Let me know!