By Cynthia Ayala
Dorothy has placed her claim on Oz, becoming the Wicked Witch. But don’t tell her that. Power-hungry and vicious, Dorothy, punishes everyone she pleases. Everyone except Glinda who seems to be the real puppet master here. Jellia is about to discover that the real Wicked Witch has always been there, hidden behind pink smiles and false kindness. A Witch who will sacrifice everything for power.
The Witch Must Burn takes a look at the most wicked witch of them all: Glinda of the South through the gaze of Jellia, the leading housekeeper in the Emerald Palace. The interesting aspect of the novella isn’t how it’s written buy rather how it’s constructed and how Paige decided to reconstruct Glinda. This Glinda is so different than the previous incarnation of her because it plays a lot with falsettos. Glinda appears one way but taking a closer look at who Glinda is.
There is no internal narrative regarding Glinda unlike with Dorothy, nothing to make her somewhat sympathetic, so there continues to be an outside opinion if her that forges itself based on the actions and decisions that Glinda takes. Actions certainly speak louder than words and Paid uses that to her advantage in her story telling. She [Paige] focuses this short story on showing the reader how malicious Glinda is through Jellia’s gaze, through her pain, and through the fear of the other characters. No one says anything explicit regarding Glinda but they also don’t have to. Paige does an excellent job showing the reader who the villain is, and how her sugary sweet kindness is her strongest weapon. She breaks down the characters in her façade, leading them into a trap and that is what makes her the most dangerous character in the series because she’s neither Good or Wicked, she’s self serving and will play everyone and anyone.
But the readers also get to see more of Jellia and why she was so important to the order of the Wicked. She was such a minor character in Dorothy Must Die whose actions, again, spoke louder than words, but readers didn’t get the chance to get to know her as a character, she was just king of there. This short story allows the reader to get to know her and her power. She’s a powerful character, but there still is some air of mystery surrounding her. She has a special sort of magic that the reader gets to see but that still isn’t explained. It’s an open door, but it’s an important avenue for Paige to establish.
There’s a saying that says “looks can be deceiving,” and this novella is nothing but a play on that, evaluating Glinda through that filter. It keeps the reader in their toes, keeps the tension high and makes for a clever and interesting read. (★★★★☆ | B+)