The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne

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 medieval 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 unlocks a dark world of ancient spells and murderous nobles behind the world Haelewise has always known…

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I actually didn’t manage to read this one before publication, so I borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened to the finished copy.
I waited way too long to write this review, so there won’t be my usual level of detail. I, overall, really enjoyed this story. It’s in the same vein as Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This is the story of Mother Gothel from Rapunzel. We follow her from the time she’s young right up to where the story we’re familiar with starts.
I really enjoyed this story. The world building was really well done. I think the setting and descriptions really did a great job of setting the tone of the story. It was easy to like Gothel. She was a young woman growing up in a world that was often unkind to women.
The story felt slow and meandering, but I think that’s common with the retellings I tend to read. I think this will be a huge hit with anyone that liked retellings, anyone that liked historical fantasy, and anyone that likes villain origin stories. I definitely recommend this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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