The Book of Gothel

Orbit: Redhook. Jul. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780316393119. $28. FANTASY
DEBUT This debut novel by poet McMyne (author of the Elgin Award–winning fairytale poetry chapbook Wolf Skin) offers a fresh reimagining of the story of Rapunzel’s witch. Haelewise knows she is different, with her black eyes and fainting spells. Her mother, Hedda, protects her from the village’s whispers and tells stories of wolf-skins, witches, and an old tower shrouded in mist, one that will protect women courageous enough to find it. When Hedda dies, Haelewise is left alone and unprotected. She looks for the tower from her mother’s tales, discovering it and an old wise woman, both known as Gothel. Haelewise begins to learn of the magic that she thought just existed in stories. The lush setting and historical narrative deepen the characters’ motivations, and intriguing revelations plus the themes of motherhood and belonging will push readers through the slower paced sections.
VERDICT Readers who have enjoyed Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked Years” series will find McMyne’s perspective delightful.
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