Zoë's Reviews > The Next Queen of Heaven

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire
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's review
Oct 22, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: review-copy
Read from October 08 to 10, 2010

I really want to enjoy every book I read; that's the whole reason I pick them up in the first place, because they sound interesting. However every once in awhile you hit a dud, and The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire is one book that just never got my attention, let alone kept it. The book is the story of the town Thebes, full of eccentric characters including Mrs. Scales who becomes a little crazy after being knocked on the head by a Catholic statue, her daughter Tabitha who rebels against her mother's religion and just about everything else and her two sons- all the result of three different marriages. There's also the gay choir director Jeremy who happens to live fairly nearby to his ex-lover, (now married with children) is also practicing for a New York musical contest with two gay buddies, one of whom is sick with AIDs. There's also half a dozen other characters with their own storylines, including a Pastor who has an attraction to Tabitha, Tabitha's boyfriend Caleb who is ignoring her following their magical Halloween together and a whole bunch of nuns. And yes- this is all in one book.

My first mistake was thinking it would be anything like the only other Maguire book I've read, Wicked, but even though it is not fantasy I still expected the wit that was present in his most popular book. In the Author's note Maguire writes, "For readers who know me primarily as a writer of fantasy, the setting and subject matter (and the vernacular spoken by characters herein) may come as surprise. Forgive me my trespasses." Well Maguire, I don't forgive you for wasting so many hours of my life as I trudged through The Next Queen of Heaven's constant attempt to be clever and quirky. For one example, Maguire describes Tabitha as a child that "At the age of seven she had spent three-quarters of a year with a clothespin on her nose, trying to keep witchcraft from winging itself through her nasal passages. That's what comes from naming your kids after TV characters, thought Turk." It's simply not funny and it's the type of overly quirkiness that makes the characters seem false instead of genuine and pales in comparison to books which manage to do quirky well, like Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You.

More significantly, Maguire simply begins too many storylines and ends up with so many loose ends as to strangle any potential that The Next Queen of Heaven even had. Extracting one storyline out the book- for example the story of the elderly nuns, or that of a gay man and his former, now married lover and perhaps Maguire would have had a book I'd enjoy but as it is he overstretched both his talent and my attention span. Exceedingly tedious, the book had me so bored that it was hard to focus on it for any significant length of time and found me actually avoiding it by cleaning my apartment at one point- which shows my desperation. It's not that The Next Queen of Heaven was awful bad- but it just doesn't pull you in which means that reading it is an exercise in persistence instead of the passion I feel when reading a book I love. *
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Reading Progress

10/08/2010 page 4
10/08/2010 page 14
5.0% "I just can't get into this. If it wasn't a review copy I would already give up... and I have over 300 pages left."
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Lydia Presley I totally hear you on this.

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