The Third Witch: A Novel
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In this stirring debut novel, Rebecca Reisert enters the world of Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which a young woman's search for vengeance plunges her into a legendary tale of deceit, murder, and retribution....
I have made my life an arrow, and His heart is my home. I have made my life a blade, and His heart is my sheath....So pledges Gilly, vowing to destroy Macbeth, the most powerful man in medieval Scotland. She escapes from the hut in Birnam Wood in which she has lived for the past seven years, ever since she was taken in by Nettle and Mad Helga -- wise women whose powers are widely feared and reviled. Disguising herself as a servant boy, Gilly finds work in the kitchen of her enemy's castle. Soon she insinuates herself into the lives of Macbeth and his beautiful, dangerous wife, subtly manipulating the forces governing their fate. But as Gilly moves closer to her private revenge, she finds herself at risk when she confronts the startling legacy of a long-concealed heritage.
in his response. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!” “Father, I do not talk of witchcraft. Just a simple disguise—” “Such things be shape-shifting and thus are the work of the devil. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!” That should have ended the matter, but to my disgust, I became obsessed with catching glimpses of myself, trying to puzzle out my girl-self in my eyes or manner. I am like a drunkard rooting out his next tankard, only instead of ale, I seek any surface that can cast me
you speak of save you from those three peasants—” “I did not ask Him to save me. Given enough time, I should have saved myself.” My breath quickens. “Anyway, it makes no difference. I have made my life an arrow, and He is my home. I have made my heart a dagger, and His heart is my—” Mad Helga says, “ ’Tis a serious business, child, to kill a man who saved you. Whether he saved you asked or saved you unasked, it matters not.” “Mad Helga,” I say, “should He save the entire world, it makes not a
flicks a bone into its place. “You daft old bat,” I say, “speak plainly!” Mad Helga holds up a tiny bone. The lower part dangles, broken. “See what your impatience has wrought? Once broken, never fully mended.” “I shall break your bones, old woman, if you do not answer me.” Mad Helga’s eye continues to twinkle. With the dangling end of the bone, she draws a faint pattern in the ashes on the hearth. “Heed well, Gilly. These curls here, this is our own wood, Birnam.” Her voice is suddenly as
that He does not expect Lord Banquo to come? Then I see Him, still standing in the corner, but the bear-man is gone. I ease my way over toward Him. Before I get there, His witchwife calls something to Him, and He raises his goblet. The room grows silent. “Welcome, friends!” His voice rings strong and sure throughout the hall. “It little befits our hospitality that our chief guest is tardy.” Several guests mutter in agreement. I am sickened by His hypocrisy. Not only did He order Lord Banquo’s
yawn cracks my jaw—“but we must hurry. I must reach Nettle and Mad Helga before He does. They must be warned!” Then I pull his reins with one hand and push branches out of the way with the other as we make our way through the wood. Eventhough I urge the horse to go faster, faster, I am nonetheless a little anxious about how Nettle and Mad Helga will receive me. I am so very tired. I feel like the walking dead. I stumble a few times. Tiredness weighs me down like a heavy cloak, like Lord Banquo’s