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The Book of Gothel

The Book of Gothel

by Mary McMyne

Narrated by Vanessa Johansson

Unabridged — 13 hours, 30 minutes

Mary McMyne
The Book of Gothel

The Book of Gothel

by Mary McMyne

Narrated by Vanessa Johansson

Unabridged — 13 hours, 30 minutes

Mary McMyne

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This dark, lush, and beautiful reimagining of the story of Rapunzel presents the witch's perspective in this tale of motherhood, magic, and the stories we pass down to our children.

"Smart, swift, sure-footed and fleet-winged, The Book of Gothel launches its magic from a most reliable source: the troubled heart. Mary McMyne is a magician."-Gregory Maguire, NYT bestselling author of Wicked

Everyone knows the tale of Rapunzel in her tower, but do you know the story of the witch who put her there? 

Haelewise has always lived under the shadow of her mother, Hedda-a woman who will do anything to keep her daughter protected. For with her strange black eyes and even stranger fainting spells, Haelewise is shunned by her village, and her only solace lies in the stories her mother tells of child-stealing witches, of princes in wolf-skins, of an ancient tower cloaked in mist, where women will find shelter if they are brave enough to seek it.
Then, Hedda dies, and Haelewise is left unmoored. With nothing left for her in her village, she sets out to find the legendary tower her mother used to speak of-a place called Gothel, where Haelewise meets a wise woman willing to take her under her wing.
But Haelewise is not the only woman to seek refuge at Gothel. It's also a haven for a girl named Rika, who carries with her a secret the Church strives to keep hidden. A secret that reveals a dark world of ancient spells and murderous nobles behind the world Haelewise has always known... 

Told from her own perspective, The Book of Gothel is a lush, historical retelling filled with dark magic, crumbling towers, mysterious woods, and evil princes. This is the truth they never wanted you to know, as only a witch might tell it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 05/02/2022

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)

From the Publisher

"Smart, swift, sure-footed and fleet-winged, The Book of Gothel launches its magic from a most reliable source: the troubled heart. Mary McMyne is a magician. Her take on the Rapunzel tale glows like a cloisonné gem set against a fist of dark soapstone."—Gregory Maguire, NYT bestselling author of Wicked

"Heartfelt and vividly imagined, this intriguing backstory to a classic fairy tale lifts the curtain on a medieval world where women battle to keep magic alive."—Emily Croy Barker, author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

"Fable and history rhyme in McMyne's captivating vision of a medieval past steeped in women's magic and bound by women's love."—Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals and The Wolf in the Whale

"The Book of Gothel is wonderfully rich with historical detail, and sparkles with the intermingled magic of gods and goddesses, seers and wisewomen. Haelewise is a memorable heroine, worthy of legend. Readers will see the story of Rapunzel in a new and refreshing light."—Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches

"An inventive retelling of a classic tale that pulls you deep into the wild woods of medieval Germany. The Book of Gothel is a spell-binding debut."—Signe Pike, author of The Forgotten Kingdom

“Both gently and fiercely told, The Book of Gothel is a sweeping, sharp story of how history twists into fairytale and back again”

Hannah Whitten, NYT bestselling author of For The Wolf

 "Mary McMyne's The Book of Gothel is a gut-punch of a fantasy novel - I found myself completely enraptured by this story within a story, and even more taken by the end, which I totally didn't see coming. Gothel feels both familiar and like a completely original fairy tale, and I was moved by the Jewish representation. This is Rapunzel like you've never seen her before." —Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood

The Book of Gothel delivers an intelligent spin on a well-loved fairy tale, the rich historical detail deftly woven with folktale magic and thoughtful characterization.”—Rowenna Miller, author of Torn

“Certain stories endure because of their beauty, wonder, and wisdom. The Book of Gothel is such a novel—one that will hold readers in delighted thrall right to the startling end.”—Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mercy of Thin Air and the Keeper of Tales Trilogy

“This is the fairy tale retelling I never knew I needed. Rooted in history, THE BOOK OF GOTHEL highlights the relationships between women and the ways in which we both help and hinder each other in the name of love and loyalty. Haelewise will be in my heart for a very long time.”—Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart

"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.... 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."—Publishers Weekly (starred)Publishers Weekly

"This debut novel by poet McMyne offers a fresh reimagining of the story of Rapunzel’s witch.... Readers who have enjoyed Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked Years” series will find McMyne’s perspective delightful."—Library Journal

"McMyne’s debut is a reinvention of the Rapunzel fairy tale, a luscious origin story from the witch’s point of view.... McMyne melds folklore with actual historical figures and cleverly bookends the narrative with opening and closing chapters set in the twenty-first century."—Booklist

"This gorgeous, feminist retelling of 'Rapunzel' immediately captivates ... Readers of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden will adore this new fairytale fantasy."—Buzzfeed Books

"Mary McMyne's debut novel is dark and moody...This atmosphere, combined with the deep longings and confusion of a girl just entering womanhood and the fact that readers have a good idea of the fate that awaits her, shadows The Book of Gothel with an overwhelming sense of dread—but will also compel readers to keep going to the very end."—BookPage

"I absolutely loved The Book of Gothel. It combines everything I tend to love about stories in a breathtaking manner and is very hard to put down... It is a book I highly recommend and I see myself coming back to again and again."

Grimdark Magazine

Library Journal


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.—Kristi Chadwick

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176168242
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication date: 07/26/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews