Everyone knows the tale of Rapunzel in her tower, but do you know the story of the witch who put her there? Mary McMyne’s spellbinding debut is the memoir of the medieval midwife and storyteller who would become known as Mother Gothel.

“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

Trade paperback coming September 5, 2023

Germany, 1156. 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..

A dark, lush, and beautiful origin story, The Book of Gothel is the truth they never wanted you to know, as only a witch might tell it.

Booklist Top Ten SF/Fantasy & Horror Debut • Library Journal Bestselling Library Science Fiction & Fantasy • Featured in BookPage

Available now in the US and UK. Order signed copies and support an independent bookstore below.

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Praise for The Book of Gothel

“A fresh, exciting backstory to one of the most famous villains in fairy tale lore: the witch who put Rapunzel in her tower… a sprawling epic, full of magic, love and heartbreak. Fans of Circe and The Wolf and the Woodsman will devour this.”Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“A reinvention of the Rapunzel fairy tale, a luscious origin story from the witch’s point of view… melds folklore with actual historical figures and cleverly bookends the narrative with opening and closing chapters set in the twenty-first century.”Booklist (starred review)

“Impeccably researched and rooted in the instantly recognisable ‘fairytale country’ of medieval Germany… making the past seem like a place of magic and mystery.”—British Fantasy Society

“Masterfully weaves fantastical elements into the historical backdrop of medieval Germany. A page-turner… ”—Historical Novel Society

“A sumptuous blend of folklore and historical fiction that offers a fiercely feminist interrogation of the original tale.”—Starburst Magazine

“Superbly crafted… a haunting origin story.”—BookPage

“A brilliant addition to the genre.” Library Journal

“This gorgeous, feminist retelling of ‘Rapunzel’ immediately captivates… Readers of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden will adore this new fairytale fantasy.” — BuzzFeed Books

“One of our favorite kind of multi-layered fictions: it offers both a 12th century woman’s memoir and the story of the modern-day scholar who finds and translates it… utterly inventive and a real pleasure to read.” Sustainable Arts Foundation

“Compulsively readable historical fantasy.”— Grimdark Magazine

“For lovers of villain origin stories! This retelling of Rapunzel is both original, female-centered, and includes historical aspects of Germany, like its lore, paganism, and Saint Hildegard.”—BookRiot

“Both gently and fiercely told, The Book of Gothel is a sweeping, sharp story of how history twists into fairytale and back again.” Hannah F. Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf and For the Throne

“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 Lost Queen and The Forgotten Kingdom

“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

“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

“Mary McMyne’s The Book of Gothel is a gut-punch of a fantasy novelI 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

“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

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 characterisation.”—Rowenna Miller, author of Torn

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

“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 Olympus Bound trilogy

Recent News

Brooklyn Book Festival Reading

As part of the Brooklyn Book Festival, I read virtually from The Book of Gothel with fellow debut novelists and NYU alumni Cleyvis Natera (Neruda on the Park) and Rebekah Anderson…

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I’m so grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts, which funded the two-week fellowship and stipend I’ve received to Vermont Studio Center to work on my novel-in-progress, THE BOOK…

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Residency at Vermont Studio Center

I just finished a month-long writing residency at Vermont Studio Center, where I spent each day writing in a beautiful studio with a view of the Gihon River and attended readings, slideshows, and talks almost every night.…

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Medieval Women: Beatrice of Burgundy

In honor of Women’s History Month, today, I’m posting about one of the medieval women I’ve been researching for my novel in progress. Relatively little is known of Beatrice of Burgundy…

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Back from Germany

I had an amazing time in Germany, researching medieval Konstanz and Freiburg, exploring city museums, hiking the Black Forest, and visiting Hildegard of Bingen’s abbey. ‘The Book of Gothel’, my novel-in-progress, is…

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Planning Trip to Germany

It’s spring break, so I finally have some time to start planning my trip to Germany to research The Book of Gothel. The trip is set for this summer. A few…

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