"A talented horror author who uses interaction between her characters to tell a great haunting story." Harriet Klausner, Gotta Write Network
The Witchby Mary Ann Mitchell
Five-year old Stephen's mother is dead, yet her spirit hovers over Stephen. It urges him to go down to the basement, where the wooden box etched with demons is kept. For Stephen is meant to be the demons' instrument to punish his mommy's persecutors. Original.
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By Mary Ann Mitchell
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Mary Ann Mitchell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDown a long wooded dirt road there lives a witch in a secluded cottage. No, the cottage is not made of gingerbread. It is made from the bones of animals and humans. Notches are cut into the bones so that each bone fits snugly into the bone next to it. The bones have been carefully prepared and lacquered to give the house a gloss in the afternoon sun. The doors and windows have tiny bones meshed decoratively into each other. Flourishes rise up the sides of the cottage, leading to a widow's walk of ex-husbands. Some of the husbands were gentle and loving, and those bones she put to the front so she can always be reminded of them. The cruel, uncaring husbands' bones are used as connective material, out of sight, covered by a putty-like substance that is of her own making. Please do not ask what it is made from.
For a witch, she is a pleasant-looking woman with small, brittle bones surrounded by several layers of fat that give her a grandmotherly look. Her hair is coarse and cut bluntly to her shoulders. The color is a reddish, blondish grey, with dark greasy spots marking where she had laid her head the night before. Her facial features are delicate, with a small pug nose, huge almond eyes, and full lips, the bottom one making her look pouty.
Her clothes are simple and second-hand. No clotheshorse, this witch. She uses the clothes she collects from her visitors who never leave. She can always find room for another set of bones. Currently she is thinking about building an extension to the cottage, although she does worry about losing the well-planned flow of the house.
A garden is situated to the right of the house. Here she grows herbs for her brews and vegetables for her stews. Long stalks of corn have about ripened. Soon she will take her scythe to the plants.
The day we arrive, the stone path that leads to the front door is slick. She has just finished watering the lawn and cleaning off the path. Her home is very tidy. As we walk the path, please look out for the squiggly snakes that like to bask in the sun. Most of the snakes are harmless. One or two are poisonous and quite large, but they are also lazy, and I'm sure you'll be able to outrun them.
When you climb the steps to the front door, you'll see a brass knocker. It is the shape of a twisted braid of garlic. A memento from when she was trying to get rid of her third husband. No, you'll not find his bones here. Actually, you'll probably not find him within a million miles of this house. The break-up was not amicable.
Carefully lift the bottom bulb of the knocker and gently rap it against the door. She has sensitive hearing, and you don't want to irritate her before you even get to meet her. And, by the way, IT will be in view as soon as she opens the door. Very proud she is of IT.
Yes, yes, she's at home. I can hear her oversized shoes shuffling across the floor. This is the time of day when she usually cleans. She'll be shaking out her bed covers and dusting the few pieces of furniture. The mirror on the hall wall she always keeps covered. A fine silk scarf dangles from the top edges of the mirror's frame. Note the frame when you go in. Bone and teeth speckle the frame. She has painted them delightful colors that shine in the dark.
Don't dawdle! I must insist you rap now before I rush off to hide myself.
"Rap, rap, rap."
The shuffling feet are coming nearer. I must now depart.
The doorknob turns, and the door slowly opens.
The visitor is wondering what the hell he was thinking when he agreed to come here.
"Hello." The witch's voice is charming. There is a hint of a tinkle, making the visitor feel at ease".
"Hi," the visitor says.
The witch carefully looks the visitor's figure over and must like what she sees, because she invites the stranger into her home.
In walks the visitor, eyes darting all around the hall searching for IT.
"Would you like to come into the parlor and sit?"
The witch leads the visitor into the next room, but the visitor hesitates, taking several backward glances.
"Come, sit in this chair."
The visitor thinks the chair looks curiously like a skeleton waiting to be padded. Looking around the room, the visitor sees something much more comfortable. A pile of plush pillows are strewn across the center of the floor. Immediately the visitor heads for the downy softness.
"Fine, fine. I will sit here myself. You are selling something?" The witch waits patiently; a smile barely lifts the edges of her mouth.
"No, not at all."
"Fine, fine." She earnestly stares at the visitor, waiting for conversation to begin.
"I'm here looking for something."
"And do you see IT?"
The visitor glances around the room and notices only a table with several lit candles upon it.
"No, but then I was told I should see IT immediately upon entering your cottage."
"Mmmm. Something I would keep on display." The witch thinks deeply about this. "You must mean the egg. The Russian egg. The bright golden-colored one I used to have."
"Used to have?"
"So what is your name?"
"You mean like the liquor?"
"Yes, Mom was in her cups when I was born. After birthing me, she called out for another brandy, but the doctor mistook it to be my name."
"Tsk, tsk. I so do feel for you. To be named after an alcoholic beverage cannot be pleasant," the witch consoles.
"Being born to an abusive parent was much worse than being called Brandy."
"Such a shame. Would you like something to eat or drink?"
"No, I won't be staying long."
"Please, please don't go. I am very much enjoying your company." She shows her teeth, and not a single one is straight.
"Besides, I wasn't looking for the egg."
"No!" She taps her fingers on an arm bone that looks as if it has come from a giant.
"It would have been nice to see the egg, of course, but that was not my main purpose in coming here." Brandy crosses his right leg over his left.
"Ah, a puzzle you are giving me." The witch snuggles her rear deeper into the bones of the chair.
"I love puzzles. Sure you wouldn't like something to eat or drink? It may take me a very long time to solve this puzzle."
"Nonsense. I will tell you what I am looking for. You won't have to guess."
"No! No! Much disappointment if you don't let me play the game. And you wouldn't want to disappoint a frail, old woman, would you?"
"I don't really have the time to waste."
"Waste time? One never wastes time when one is engaged in deep thought. Clues. Perhaps you could give me some clues. That might speed up the time it takes me." The witch sits forward in her seat and leans her head to one side.
"Okay, if this is important to you."
"Important? Much is important, but certainly servicing your visit with the appropriate object is most important at this moment." She claps her hands. "Quick! Quick! Give me a clue, but don't make it too easy for me to guess what you are looking for."
"I've been sent by a troll."
"Is that your clue?"
The visitor nods.
"What kind of troll?"
"An ugly one."
"But they are all ugly. How am I to guess if you won't play the game seriously?" Frustrated, the witch rubs her nose so hard the visitor believes it will fall off.
"He was a talkative troll."
"How do you know the troll was a he?"
The visitor shrugs.
"I really don't know how to determine their sex, madam. And I wouldn't be interested even if I could." The visitor thinks all this talk a waste. Why couldn't the troll have told him exactly where to look?
"Ah, but the sex is important. You see, female trolls always tell the truth, and male trolls never do."
"He could have lied to me about the-"
"No, no, please don't give the answer away. We must play this game through. Now, your first clue is that you were sent by a troll of indeterminate sex. This truly gives me pause. You see, I know many trolls both alive and dead."
"This one is alive, I assure you, for I was just speaking with ... er ... the troll." The visitor wonders whether IT could be buried under the pile of pillows on which he sits. Attempting to be inconspicuous, he begins to peel away layer after layer of pillows.
"If you are uncomfortable there, I will change seats with you," the witch eagerly offers.
The visitor, thinking the skeletal chair looks not only uncomfortable but morbid, stops engaging in his pillow toss.
"No, madam. The chair certainly looks well-made, but I have a bad back, and I don't think having bones sticking in my back would help."
"You do have bones sticking in your back. Nice bones, I'd say from the look of your physique. Your little vertebrae are probably a pretty sight."
"Shall we return to our guessing game, madam?"
"A live troll of indeterminate sex sent you here. And where is this troll now?"
"I presume he is waiting outside for me."
"And why do you presume that? Did he tell you he would wait?"
"No, but ... Why wouldn't he?"
The witch yawns and stretches her club-like arms.
"Because he would get terribly bored waiting for you."
"I don't intend to be long," answers the visitor.
The witch claps her hands.
"It is time for another clue. Please try to give me a better clue."
"Better than what I have given you?"
"You've hardly gone out of your way to assist me. But that is fine, for we don't want me to guess too soon and spoil your visit."
The witch jumps up from her chair screaming. "Where? Where?"
"That was meant to be a clue, madam."
"Naughty, naughty." The witch giggles and reseats herself on the skeleton chair. "I have some in the basement, if that's what you're after."
"I am looking for a particular one."
"Oh, and does this spider sing or dance? Perhaps he calculates quickly inside his head. Or better still, he may be able to lift weights one hundred times his size."
"Madam, I am looking for a giant mummified spider."
"I don't have him anymore. Used him for a spell, you see. Can I get you some bat wing or toad legs instead?"
"But he or she swore you still had IT in your entrance hall."
"Why would he do that?"
"I still have a mummified leg or two, if you'd like to see them." The witch stands. Suddenly she seems to tower over the visitor.
"But the spider was important to me."
"Why? Are you related?"
"Hardly, madam. I was going to write my thesis on the spider."
"Well, I still have a leg or two. You could go ahead and write a thesis about them. The legs are very long and dark, and I'm sure they have all kinds of secrets embedded in them. Come and I'll show them to you." The witch reaches out her right hand toward the visitor.
"Where are they?" he asks.
"In the basement."
"Can you not bring them here?"
"Oh, they are so long and thick. Much thickness for a spider's leg."
"How did you get them down to the basement in the first place?"
"A troll helped me."
"An ugly troll?"
"One of the ugliest," she says.
"And did he promise to send me to you?"
"Not you per se."
"Just a live human body?"
"He always does. You see, I need a wart from a human hand."
"Well, I have none," Brandy says, raising his hands into the air so the witch can view them.
"Wait! Wait!" The witch prevents him from lowering his hands. "Must see! Yes, must see." Holding his hands tightly in hers, she scans the flesh. "There, there," she screams, jumping up and down. "An immature one. It needs time to grow."
"I don't see anything."
"Very tiny, the wart. Teensy-tiny wart."
"Well, the wart probably isn't big enough for you to use." "Mmmmmm. Big enough." "If the wart is barely visible to you, how would you remove it?" "The hand will do." Brandy jumps to his feet. "Madam, I have no intention of losing a hand. Since you do not have the entire spider, then I must go. I'm sorry; this has been a waste of time for both of us."
"Daddy, how come the witch can see the wart and Brandy can't?"
"Ah, Stephen, that is the question. Can she really see a wart on his hand, or does she have some evil plan to use all of Brandy?"
Dad leaned back against the head of Stephen's bed, the oak solid on his back, a support he could use right now.
"So, let's see now."
"Madam, I must insist you stand out of my way so that I may leave."
"Leave? Why leave? Some cake or biscuits? A spot of tea? No? A taste of my home-brewed sherry? Aren't you having a good time? I will be ever so lonesome if you leave." The witch's face melted into a sulk.
"Dad, do witches really steal human bones, and if they do, how do those humans walk around?"
"They don't walk around after their bones are stolen."
"Is that why Robin is in a wheelchair? Did a witch steal her bones?" Stephen's round eyes became wider and rounder.
"No. Robin has nerve damage."
"A witch stole her nerves. Is that what the witch makes her putty out of?"
"Yeah! Yeah, as a matter of fact, that is what building putty is made from."
"Even the kind that holds our house together?" Stephen began pulling his covers up over his chest.
"Oh, no, we have special putty. We have animalfree putty."
"Good," stated Stephen.
"So anyway, the witch is dragging Brandy down the cellar steps when a loud crash is heard at the front door."
"I thought she was offering Brandy something to eat."
"But he turned the offer down, and in her frustration she grabbed hold of Brandy and pulled him over to the open basement door."
"Why was the door open? We never keep the door open. Mom used to say that it got too damp in the basement."
"Mom wasn't living with this witch."
"So none of Mom's bones are holding up the witch's house?"
"Mom's bones are ashes, Stephen. You were with us when we sprinkled the ashes at sea."
Stephen nodded his head seriously.
"So in rushes the troll. You see, he had a conscience and began to regret sending the young man, Brandy, into the witch's cottage."
"The troll's not going to save Brandy, is he?" Stephen looked disappointed.
"Not if you don't want him to. Which will it be?" Dad gave a thumb's up followed by a thumb's down.
With an evil glint in his eyes, Stephen raised his right fist high into the air.
Excerpted from The Witch by Mary Ann Mitchell Copyright © 2007 by Mary Ann Mitchell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Mary Ann Mitchell’s short stories have been published in a number of magazines. She has served as Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the Northern California Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Secretary of the Horror Writers of America Association. Mitchell is also a member of Mystery Writers of America, and the Science Fiction, Fantasy Writers of America.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Prepare yourself for more of a ghost story than a witch story. The author writes well and creates some very intriguing characters (though sadly the main characters fall very flat), but it felt like the reader was being led to something that just never manifested. We are given a very different idea of how the child in the story is going to act than how he actually does, making the story much less creepy and a bit of a let-down. I also was put off by the dialogue most of the time, the very young main character speaks too sophisticatedly and the emotional reactions are often hokey and not at all compelling. The book would have been better had it been completely composed of the actual witch story being told as a bedtime tale throughout.
Here goes harriet klausner ruining another book. Why do you persist in giving the entire book away? Do u not comprehend that you are ruining it for others, or do u just not care? You have ruined so many books. I truly wish bn would ban you from posting.
While I liked the premise, there were several flaws that distracted me. The dialogue was too stilted, and the main character was a small child that was written as if he were an adult. His words, thoughts, and actions were too mature for that age. The introduction of the bedtime story was distracting, especially since it didn't seem to add anything to the story. Finally, I felt there were too many characters, and none of them were fully developed. I finished it just to find out what happened, then moved it to the archive.
This book was pretty good. The basic story is a witch commits suicide so she can use demons to wreak revenge on people who have wronged her. Once her revenge is complete, she tries to trick her young son into bringing her back to life. That's as much as I'm going to divulge. The book is scary but not too much. The only downside is in the child's dialogue. The boy is supposed to be eight but he talks like an adult. I don't just mean his intelligence level, I mean the words he chooses. In one scene he talks about having seen something 'for just a brief moment'. How many 8-year olds talk like that? 'I just saw it for a second.' or 'I only saw it for a little bit.' would have been more appropriate. Other than the child's dialogue, it was a decent book.
i wish i was more scare to it...but it was a fun read and i would recommend this book to anyone who love to read supernatural books...i give this book four stars because i just wish the child was more then 5 years old...not eight people he was 5...but i would recommend this for a good read
A bland horror story with boring characters. The scariest part of this book is the cover.
It was an ok read. The story dragged on a bit. The ending was weak. Would not reccommend.
This book seemed to drag on... but then the ending was stupid. Wouldn't recommend
Was not very good. Sounded like it was written by a child.
In life Cathy was a very unhappy woman who didn¿t get along with her mother and was hurt when she discovered her husband was cheating on her with their teenage babysitter. During an episode of deep depression she hung herself in the basement her son Stephen discovered his mother¿s body. Cathy in life was a practicing dark witch and she taught her son how to gain power so he could one day become a powerful warlock. Stephen calls his mother back from beyond upon her return she wants to live again if only to enact revenge on the people who hurt her. In the basement where she practiced her craft, there is a box on the table decorated with real demons on the top of the box. When Stephen¿s blood is spilt and the demons drink it, they can be freed to enact her vengeance. Stephen does this but people closest to him are badly injured and die as the demons carry out Cathy¿s revenge. Stephen realizes that this can¿t continue but he doesn¿t know if he will be able to sever his last link to his mother and send her back to the hell she belongs in. --- Readers who like to be scared out of their wits will thoroughly enjoy THE WITCH, a chilling horror thriller in which one shocker follows another. Mary Ann Mitchell is talented horror author who uses interaction between her characters to tell a great haunting story. Readers will wonder how far Cathy will go because after she achieves her quest. She also has a hidden agenda (with her offspring) to take over, by his ¿invitation¿, Stephen¿s heart & soul. --- Harriet Klausner