Hard to believe this is a debut novel. Highly skilled writing. Interesting twist on a well known story. The human interest side of Shakespeare and full of glorious characters and sub plots. I loved the book and also recommended it to a friend's daughter who was struggling with Macbeth at school. Helped the modern teenager "get" Shakespeare!
Gillyflower is the third witch, one of the three crones who foretell his future to Macbeth in Shakespeare's play... but here, we have Gilly's own side of the story. She lives amongst the woods with Nettle and Mad Helga, robbing the dead of the battlefields of Scotland and selling potions to suspicious villagers, never far from accusations of witchcraft. She remembers the happier life she once led, and the man who destroyed it, whom she has sworn to destroy in her turn. When he saves her life, she finds out his identity, but for a peasant girl to come close enough to the greatest lord in the kingdom to kill him seems an impossible task, and would be, for anyone less than the resourceful Gilly.
Disguising herself as a servant boy, she gets work in the castle, moving ever closer to Macbeth. But in doing so, she risks not only her own life, but the lives of the servants who have befriended her, as well as Nettle and Mad Helga when she tries to persuade them to perform outlawed witchcraft.
This is a fabulous story, wonderfully told and full of humour to offset the harsher realities of mediaeval Scotland. Anyone who knows Macbeth will be amused by the intrusions of Shakespeare's lines into the dialogue, but it isn't absolutely necessary to know the play well (or maybe even at all) to enjoy the book. Though the twist in the tail is somewhat predictable, and the ending is pure gilt-covered romance, this is still a highly enjoyable combination of historical novel and boy's own adventure.
I have never read Shakespears Macbeth. I have tried several times when I was much younger to read some of his writings, but I could never get through the stories. I just finished reading The Third Witch. The story does move right along and now maybe I will some day pick up the Macbeth actually written by Shakespear and get all the way through it and it will be because of this book. I enjoyed this book. I do recommend if you are having trouble reading Macbeth that maybe you should read this book first.
An interesting take on the witches of Shakespeare's Macbeth. I really enjoyed it.......right up to the last 2 pages. I would say that where the writer took the story in the last 2 pages (literally) nearly ruined the whole book for me. and definitely provoked a lower rating from me over all, I thought it was that bad. I also enjoyed the well researched and interesting details of conditions.