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.
The Witch in the Wood combines magic and shape-shifting into a delightful romantic tale. It's the story of a young lady who, after the death of her mother, the only other person with whom she's had contact, lives alone in the woods. She has magical powers, which she uses only when absolutely necessary. One day, while out hunting, she shoots a deer with her arrow, and that deer turns into a man. She nurses him back to health and the pair fall in love, but in order to be together they must confront the powerful wizard who rules the land from which her true love came.
This story has the feel of a fairy tale, so being a huge fan of fairy tales, I really enjoyed it. This is the second story I've recently read that is written in first-person POV in a more memoir-type style, but unlike the other one, this one contained a vibrancy that made me feel connected to Mildryth, the heroine and narrator. Given the brevity of the story, her romance with Erdwyn is lacking a certain depth, but I found it sweet and heartfelt nonetheless. (As a parental warning, there is some very subtle allusion to them making love.) For being so short there were a decent number of twists and turns that kept me engaged while reading it too, so overall, The Witch in the Wood is one of my favorite stories so far in Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, the antholody in which it's found. It was my first read by Delia Sherman, but has definitely left me open to trying more of her work.
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