cover image The Book of Gothel

The Book of Gothel

Mary McMyne. Redhook, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-39311-9

McMyne’s shimmering debut gives a fresh, exciting backstory to one of the most famous villains in fairy tale lore: the witch who put Rapunzel in her tower. Haelewise daughter-of-Hedda has been plagued by mysterious fainting spells for as long as she can remember. Her mother, a midwife, warns her never to travel alone and keeps her entertained at home through fairy tales. After her mother falls ill and dies, however, Haelewise dares to venture out into the mist-filled woods, seeking more knowledge of her mother’s ancestry, beliefs, and the magic she so often spoke of. Haelewise discovers a sacred place from her mother’s stories, a tower called Gothel, where a wise woman offers her shelter. As Haelewise learns more about the world and her place in it—partly through another young woman, Rika, who also seeks refuge at the tower—she forges her own history, reframing traditional understandings of witches: “I built proverbs in my head.... Blessed is the snow that hides my path. Blessed is the lie that saves a life. Blessed is the woman who helps her kind.” The result is a sprawling epic, full of magic, love, and heartbreak. Fans of Circe and The Wolf and the Woodsman will devour this taut, empowering fairy tale. Agent: Sam B. Farkas, Jill Grinberg Literary. (July)