Monday, September 29, 2014


The musical Wicked has captured international attention and fame since its début. What audiences may not know is that the musical was based on the series of Wicked books by author Gregory Maguire. Egg and Spoon, Maguire’s latest novel, is a fairy tale in the same vein. However, readers expecting a heartwarming children’s story will be surprised to discover Maguire’s literary prowess. Egg and Spoon is unexpectedly shrewd, intricate, and philosophical, taking the reader on a journey that defies both expectation and convention.

Egg and Spoon is a rather different fairy tale. Part fantasy, part reality, the novel is “officially” set in what appears to be late 19th century Russia. Historical figures such as Fabergé, Rasputin, and an unidentified Tsar occasionally make cameo appearances. The novel is a complex intersection of human lives and Russian mythology. At the core, we have Elena and Cat, two girls at opposite ends of the economic spectrum who switch lives. Their mistaken identities set in motion an adventure which involves Russia’s greatest magical guests: a hilariously modern Baba Yaga, an ice dragon, and an enigmatic Firebird. Throughout the novel, Maguire dispenses idiosyncratic tidbits of wacky wisdom and moving scenes of forgiveness and reconciliation that add an unexpected but welcome depth to the story. It is a novel of discovery, coming of age, humanity, children, loss, and the bizarre. Above all, it is a novel that is unabashedly quirky, charming, and fun.

Egg and Spoon’s fairy tale premise is deceptively simple. However, its scope is as vast as Russia’s landscape and the imagery is dynamic and fantastical. Matryoshka dolls, talking animals, snow-swept cliffs, and multi-coloured gowns abound, whisking the reader to a world that is stunning in its conception. Who knows if Baba Yaga is real or if Firebirds still lay eggs? After reading Egg and Spoon, Maguire’s masterful writing convinces us that at the very least, the magic of storytelling and great writing are certainly still very real.

Mike Fan is a Chinese-Canadian classical baritone. Mike plays five instruments and speaks three languages (with a few in progress). He holds degrees in piano performance and biomedical science, but it was obvious from an early age that music would win out. On the literary side, Mike wrote 365 sonnets in his teens and writes for his poetry blog Follow @MikeZFan for Mike's adventures, musical and otherwise.

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