LOST by Gregory Maguire (HarperCollins), 339 pages, $39.50 cloth. Rating: NNN
After giving a history to the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked) and providing a rich, complex family life for Cinderella (Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister), Gregory Maguire tells a contemporary story in Lost, about American writer Winnie Rudge, who visits London for literary inspiration and steps into a version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Or so it seems, since Winnie's ancestor appears to be the source for Ebenezer Scrooge. Maguire, at home with literary and mythic figures, also mixes Jack the Ripper, Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan into a tale that's strong on descriptive details and unexpected lyrical flights. But the narrative -- about Winnie's forebear's haunted house -- turns dull halfway through as Winnie becomes more and more neurotic. A few plot twists help, but the book succeeds best in its clever style and parade of eccentric characters.