Decades after escaping the tower, Zel makes her living as a healer and wise-woman, travelling the lands with her family and the sentient, serpentine braid that still carries a touch of the witch’s magic. Short-haired and happy, Zel prepares for the birth of her first great-grandchild, only to find herself shaken by unexpected news: Mother Gothel is dead.
Memories of the woman who raised her, isolated and imprisoned, unlock within Zel an equal measure of anger and grief, forcing her at last to reckon with the tragic events of that long-ago summer when her own children came of age … a season where implacable death stalked her family across the wild, grassy plains and the world Zel knew split open and soured.
For there are graver threats in Zel’s world than witches, greater sorrows to be borne than the loss of true love, and some dangers from which even the oldest, strongest magic may not be enough to protect her.
Braid was highly anticipated for me after reading one of the other novellas in the Never Afters series by Australian author Kirstyn McDermott.
Braid follows the protagonist Rapunzel, known as Zel, through her flashback memories of life immediately after the Tower and the rise of anti witchcraft sentiments in the common folk. This lands Zel into trouble that her fierce twin sister ends up paying the costs while they mourn the earlier death of Zel’s younger brother and the other twin.
Despite what should have been a joyous and life-changing arrival of Zel freed from the witch’s tower. But even here, Zel has a complicated friendship and dislike for the witch Gothel s who had raised her from a child to a tormentor.
Braid is a well-written and highly original novella from the Never Afters series. McDermott uses a complex technique of several timelines, which could occasionally be difficult to follow at times. Well-worth reading the imagined life of Rapunzel after fleeing the tower with her prince.
A wonderful read for fans of fairytales and fantasy, literature and history, There’s a bit of everything for the reader and makes you think what prisons we build for ourselves. A great real!!
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