Sarah's Reviews > The Third Witch

The Third Witch by Rebecca Reisert
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's review
Aug 26, 2011

really liked it

4.5 stars

As any worthwhile description will tell you, The Third Witch is the story of Shakespeare's MacBeth told from the point of view of one of the infamous witches.
Gilly has devoted herself to her revenge against the man she only calls "He" or "Him", which is revealed early on to be MacBeth. No reason is given - at least not until late in the novel - but her singleminded bloodthirstiness is reason enough to keep turinng the pages. Nevertheless, despite being consumed with a desire to kill, she hasn't departed enough from her essential humanity to be beyond simple human kindness or the desire for some kind of friendship. Early on in the book, she takes a somewhat simpleminded young boy under her wing and throughout the novel, develops small but crucial relationships with others living in the castle.

As the terribly destructive plot of the original MacBeth plays out around her, it is interesting to see the small roles she plays in creating the individual events that occur in Shakespeare's Scottish play. As the novel continues, though, it is easy to see that she is not just fighting for the revenge she so ardently desires, but also for her very soul.

Reisert's style is engaging. She doens't waste time dawdling on meaningless details and forwards the plot in every chapter. Just like Gilly our narrator, the author is impatient for the next step to unfold and doesn't waste our time (or hers) on baubles and fripperies.

Despite staying true to Shakespeare (as opposed to documented history, as the author allows in the Historical Note), the ending of the novel is more uplifting than I was expecting from a book who makes no secrets about the high cost of revenge and vengeance. MacBeth purists might object to the more hopeful tone of the final chapter, or might roll their eyes at the convenience of it all, but I doubt that most readers will be too deeply offended by the conclusion's arrangements.

All in all, a fine story well told. And if you like Books About Books, you could go far worse than to read this one.

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