The Book of Gothel

Memoir of a Witch


By Mary McMyne

Formats and Prices




$23.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 5, 2023. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

"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, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked

Everyone knows the story of Rapunzel in her tower, but do you know the story of the witch who put her there? Mary McMyne's spellbinding debut, rich with historical detail and forbidden magic, reveals the truth behind the fairy tales—the truth only a witch could tell. 

Germany, 1156. Shunned by her village for her unusual fainting spells and black eyes, young Haelewise's only solace lies in her mother's stories of witches, magic wolf-skins, and ancient mist-cloaked towers. When her mother dies, she sets off through the woods for the mysterious tower of fable: Gothel. There, Haelewise discovers a haven, a safe refuge for women like her and for those who have lost their way in the harsh world of men. A place where magic lives and where fairy tales of her mother's stories have more truth than she'd ever imagined. 

Praise for The Book of Gothel

"A sweeping, sharp story of how history twists into fairy tales and back again." —Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author

"Sparkles with the intermingled magic of gods and goddesses, seers and wise women." —Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches 

"A sprawling epic, full of magic, love, and heartbreak." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 


  • "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
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "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

On Sale
Sep 5, 2023
Page Count
400 pages

Mary McMyne

Mary McMyne

About the Author

Mary McMyne has widely published stories and poems in venues like Redivider, Gulf Coast, Strange Horizons, and Apex Magazine, and her debut fairytale poetry chapbook, Wolf Skin (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), won the Elgin Chapbook Award. She is a graduate of the New York University MFA Program.

Learn more about this author