Title: The Witch in the Wood
Author: Delia Sherman
In: Under My Hat (Jack Dann & Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
5th sentence, 74th page: I crashed through the undergrowth that separated us and dug my knife into the moss, cutting out a handful to pack into the hole my arrow had made.
Mildryth is a young witch who, until three years ago, lived in the woods with her mother. Ever since her mother’s death, she’s been alone, never coming into contact with another human being. She possesses great magical powers which her mother taught her how to use but only when necessary. While out hunting one day, she wounds a deer with her arrow, but before she can kill it, the deer turns into a man. She eventually discovers he is named Erdwyn, and that he is running from his destiny in the north country, a place Mildryth’s mother had warned her away from. As she nurses Erdwyn back to health, the pair fall in love, but when his wounds fester, she must risk everything to travel to the north country to find the only cure. While there, Mildryth learns amazing things about herself, but upon her return, she is pursued by the powerful wizard who rules that land and who will not allow her to live happily and peacefully with her true love.
I really like The Witch in the Wood. It was quite a cute and unorthodox little love story. I mean it starts with the first person voice recounting the day that she met the love of her life. Which is about the only predictable aspect of this short story.
Firstly, the history of the witch is completely vague and difficult to understand. She’s completely on her own and sure of her own powers. But it isn’t until the stag enters her life that she really has to test her knowledge and experience. After all, he might bring love into her life, but he also brings danger and threats.
Ultimately, the witch in the woods is a reminder that it is important to care for others and your family. That sticking up for yourself is a power all in its own right.