Excerpt from Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Son of a Witch

by Gregory Maguire

Son of a Witch
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 356 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


She couldn't be certain of this. She was no doctor.

Of one thing she was sure, though. With his arrival, the mood of the Grasstrail Train changed. Why? Perhaps this: If the poor creature had been beaten to within an inch of his life, and lived, there might be hope for all of them. Think about it: His face hadn't been scraped. People relaxed. The nasal buzz of prayers around the supper campfire gave way to a quieter mood. Song returned, in time.

We'll make it. We deserve to. The privilege of life has been accorded us, see? We've been saved. Must be for a reason. Spines straightened, eyes grew bright and moist in a rapture of gratitude at the plan of the Unnamed God.

Another week and they had rounded the landmark rocks that marked their U-turn north, and they left behind them in the Disappointments the greatest threat of ambush.

In this month of Summersend, the wind flicked the strands of oakhair in the forest that grew between the lakes. Squirrels spilled nuts on the skarkskin roofs of the wagons. The air was more watery, too, though both lakes were out of sight beyond the miles of woods on either side.

As the oakhair forest thinned and they reached the Shale Shallows, the shady surround and homely walls of an old settlement solidified in the middle of walnut-colored fields. The first stone building they'd seen in six weeks. Despite its steep, aggrieved gables and pinched outbuildings, despite its battlement defenses, nothing—not even the Emerald City—could seem more welcome a sight just then.

"The Cloister of Saint Glinda," they buzzed. "How holy it appears."

The maunts who lived within were divided into ranks. Some took vows of silence and lived cloistered. Others took vows of indulgence.



Under the Jackal Moon

They indulged in teaching, tending the sick, and operating a hostelry for those traveling between the southern Kells and the Emerald City. So the broad carved doors were swung open when the Grasstrail Train pulled up. The welcoming committee, a band of three middle-aged maunts with well-starched collars and bad teeth, stood at attention.

They greeted Oatsie with frosty politeness. They were suspicious of any unmarried woman who had found a way to live single, apart from female community. Still, they offered her the traditional wipe of the face with sweet rosefern. A fourth maunt, sequestered behind a screen, played a welcoming anthem, poorly. Harp strings snapped, and the sound of a most unmauntish oath issued forth.

The travelers didn't care. They were almost in heaven. To anticipate beds!—and a warm meal!—and wine!—and a captive audience, ready to thrill at the story of their journey!

In this last item, though, the maunts gave bad value for money. At once their attention was riveted by the invalid. They carried him into the loggia and hurried to collect a stretcher so he could be hauled upstairs to the infirmary.

The maunts were beginning to shift the fellow to private quarters when the Superior Maunt wafted by, fresh from her morning devotions. She greeted Oatsie Manglehand with the least of nods, and glanced upon the broken lad for a moment. Then she waved her hands: Remove him.

She said to Oatsie, "We know him. We know this one."

"You do?" said Oatsie.

"If my memory hasn't begun to fail me," the Superior Maunt continued, "you should know him, as well. You took him from us some years ago. Fifteen was it, twenty? At my age I don't apprehend the passage of time as I ought."

"He'd have been a child twenty years ago, an infant," said Oatsie. "I never took an infant from a mauntery."

"Perhaps not an infant. But you took him just the same. He traveled with a disagreeable novice who served for several years in the hospice. You were conveying them to the castle stronghold of the Arjikis. Kiamo Ko."

The foregoing is excerpted from Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire, pages 1-8. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.