“Mother Knows Best: A Tale of the Old Witch” Book Review and Summary

🟒 Written by 🟒

Serena Valentino

🟒 Jacket Illustration 🟒

Jeffrey Thomas

🟒 Publisher 🟒

Disney Publishing

🟒 Book Synopsis 🟒

The tale of the legendary golden flower is widely known. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the flower is coveted by an old witch to keep herself young and beautiful. And always the flower is used to save a dying queen, who then gives birth to a princess with magical hair. Not willing to lose the flower, the old witch steals the princess and locks her away in a high tower, raising her as her own. But the princess always finds out who she truly is and manages to defeat the old witch. And yet this is only half the story. So what of the old witch, Mother Gothel? Where does she come from? And how does she come across the magical golden flower? Here is one account that recounts a version of the story that has remained untold for centuries . . . until now. It is a tale of mothers and daughters, of youth and dark magic. It is a tale of the old witch.

🟒 Non Spoiler Spew 🟒

This book was a pretty good read because we get a back story to Gothel. When I watched Tangled I always wondered why she did the things she did. Don’t get me wrong. I understand she did it because Rapunzel has magical hair, but I always felt something was missing.

You know, one thing I did not enjoy was the pace of this book. I felt it was very slow and lagging in areas. There was also a whole section that was based on the movie and the dialogue from the movie. I could have done without all that. I love the movie, but I don’t need it retold in the book. Well. I guess for those who forgot the movie this helps, but to me it still felt like they were filler pages.

When these books first came out I was a HUGE fan. I loved The Beast Within and Fairest of All. I thought it was an interesting twist to the stories, but as the books keep going it seems more about these Odd Sisters than anything else. Which kind of stinks because now we are getting more away from the backstory of the villains we love to hate and it focuses that nothing was their fault.

With Mother Gothel there is a completely different story to her. Yes I know, I know this is the author’s way of being different. Which is totally great and all, but it is hard to break away from the stories we already know and love.

The more I think about it, Valentino is totally erasing the stories of the villains we already know. She should have said in the beginning of her book series that this is a different reality that we know. Instead she is making it seem this is the true nature of how everything happened in this world.

If you have not read any of the previous books I HIGHLY suggest you do so. If you don’t then you will be extremely lost and confused when you get to parts with the Odd Sisters.

🟒 Villains Books Series Order 🟒
Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen – Book 1
The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince – Book 2
Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch – Book 3
Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy – Book 4
Mother Knows Best: A Tale of the Old Witch – Book 5
The Odd Sisters: A Tale of the Three Witches – Book 6
Evil Thing: A Tale of That De Vil Woman – Book 7
Cold Hearted – Book 8 (Coming out in June 2021)

πŸ”΄ Spoiler Summary Spew πŸ”΄

4 witches, Hazel, Primrose, Gothel, and Manea all live in a mansion called the dead woods. They live in an enchanted land between the living world and the dead. Manea, the witches mother, is the queen of the dead. She is an evil mother because she always tell her daughters they are disappointments because they are not identical triplets. Hazel, Primrose, and Gothel always spent their time in the dead woods cemetery. Out of all three Gothel was the only one who has been obsessed with learning their mother’s magic. Her sisters tell her to calm down and Manea pops up and tells them that she will teach them her magic because Mother Knows Best. The way for them to learn magic is for them to drink her blood.

Since Manea is queen of the dead she has a deal with the nearby villages to give them her dead. One of the villages has been refusing to give Manea their dead. So she casts a spell and calls upon her dead to come out of their graves to do her bidding. She sends them to the village to kill everyone except the children and one adult female. She does this to punish the village and leaves one adult so that adult can pass on the story.

After what happened with the village, Gothel seems to be the only one who is ok with what happened. This bothers Prim a lot. But Gothel says she wants their mothers powers so she can always protect her and Hazel. Prim still isn’t having it and she threatens to leave if Gothel drinks their mother’s blood. Hazel calms down Prim and they all agree to drink their mother’s blood.

Manea starts a ceremony for her girls so they can drink her blood to learn her magic. They all go into the conservatory and see that there are golden flowers called the Rapunzel flower. She tells them their family have been watching over these flowers for generations. It is how they are able to live many lifetimes. She tells Gothel privately that it is her who is going to take her place as queen, she is her favorite, and she always needs to protect the Rapunzel flower. For the ceremony Manea brought her dead minions out to celebrate. Prim starts to freak out because they are children and one adult female. She freaks out because her mother really did kill children.

Prim starts to lose it and starts yelling and saying she won’t drink the blood. Manea gets angry and forces her blood into Prim’s mouth. She then throws Hazel across the room because she tries to save Prim. Gothel is upset with everything and threatens to burn all the Rapunzel flowers. Manea freaks out and leaves everyone alone. Gothel in the heat of everything burns all the flowers, expect one. By burning the flowers this causes Manea to wither away and die.

After their mother dies, Gothel awakens their mother’s most trust minion, Jacob. Jacob tells Gothel that she MUST put her mom’s ashes to rest or else she will haunt them for eternity. He also tells her that she needs to plant the Rapunzel flower or else it will die, and that Manea left a vial of her blood ONLY for Gothel.

When Gothel buries Manea’s ashes, she comes back as a black vortex to kill Prim and Hazel to punish Gothel. Somehow Gothel musters up some magic and banishes her mother and protects her sisters. Even though she saved them, she could not save their home. Jacob wakes up other minions to help rebuild the house and to give the witches whatever they want.

All of a sudden Prim and Hazel start to not feel well. They start to get badly ill. Then the Odd Sisters pop up for a visit. Odd Sisters say they came because they felt Gothel’s magic when she sent her mom to the mists. Jacob told Gothel privately to not trust the odd sisters because Manea never trusted them. All they want is to steal the Rapunzel flower.

Gothel’s sister’s keep getting more ill. So Gothel goes into a secret room that has the vile of blood Jacob was talking about. Gothel wants it to give to Prim and Hazel in hopes it will help them. In the secret room is also the Rapunzel flower with a piece of paper with a incantation written on it. She runs up to her sisters because she now knows how to save them. The odd sisters tell Gothel that her sisters have died. Gothel is in shock so the odd sisters put her in a deep sleep.

Many years pass and Gothel is still sleeping. Jacob asks for help from the odd sisters to wake up Gothel. Instead of showing up they send Jacob instructions to wake her and they send over Pflanze, their cat. Gothel wakes up and she wakes up to a whole new world. The little villages have now turned into a big kingdom. All of a sudden the new king has somehow learned about the Rapunzel flower and has come to the dead woods to steal it for is very ill wife. Jacob sends Gothel away with all her belongings to make her safe. He also told the odd sisters what was happening.

Gothel ends up in this cottage that Jacob set up for her. He set it up with the Rapunzel flower and has sent her sisters coffins with her so she could try to bring them back to life. While Gothel is sleeping the odd sisters went out and got Gothel a caretaker, Ms. Tiddlebottom. Gothel finally wakes up and the odd sisters tell her that all the Rapunzel flowers have died and she is only left with one. They also told her that Jacob has passed away in the battle with the kingdom and the dead woods are no more.

More years have passed and this has started to change Gothel. With her being along, even though she had a caretaker, has made her hate the odd sisters. She starts to tell herself that she is ready to die. As soon as she says this the odd sisters pop up. They tell her that they found the vile of Manea’s blood that they were looking for. Days have passed since she drank the bood and nothing has happened. This makes Gothel angry and she starts to yell at the odd sisters. While she is yelling at them she sees that one of the sisters has dirt under her fingernails. This throws Gothel into a mad frenzy and realizes they want to steal the Rapunzel flower. She starts to call on the dead and it works. The odd sisters leave in fear.

Word spreads to the kingdom that there is a special flower in a nearby cottage. The king send his soldiers over to the cottage to get the Rapunzel flower because his wife is sick again because of her pregnancy. Gothel runs to hide in the cellar while Tiddlebottom talks to the soldiers. They take the flower back to the king. Gothel is mad and wants to steal back the flower. She waits a few days then heads to the kingdom. She comes back with a baby girl. They need another set of hands so they hire Ms. Pickle to take care of the baby, now named Rapunzel.

On Rapunzel’s birthday Tiddlebottom and Pickle cannot find Rapunzel. They look all over for her. They finally decide to go down to the cellar. Here they see all the witches with blood on all of them and the floor. On the floor they see Rapunzel along with two other dead ladies. They scream and break spell the odd sisters and Gothel were in. The odd sisters kill Pickle and take Tiddlebottom to her room and wipe her memory.

After this Gothel takes Rapunzel to a hidden tower. Gothel still wants to revive her sister’s but waits for Rapunzel’s hair to get longer and wait for her to turn 10. At this point the odd sisters cannot help Gothel because they have been sent to a dreamscape because of a curse. Eight more years have passed by and the odd sisters in the dreamscape have compelled Flynn Rider to steal the royal crown and to go find Rapunzel. Around this time Gothel leaves the tower to go get a sleeping potion so she can put Rapunzel to sleep while she tries to revive her sisters. Rapunzel’s hair is now long enough to try it on her own without the odd sisters. The odd sisters also convince Gothel to leave to get Rapunzel the paints she wants so she can take this time to see how her sisters are holding up in the coffin since she hasn’t seen them in years.

Halfway back to her sisters casket Gothel pulls out an enchanted to mirror to see it. She sees that it is opened and one of the odd sisters pops up in the mirror and starts to laugh. She tells Gothel that Manea made Gothel and that Prima and Hazel were not her real sisters. They were stolen from a nearby village. We also learn that the odd sisters gave the king and queen the idea of lighting the lanterns on Rapunzel’s birthday.

They did all this because they don’t want Gothel to have Rapunzel anymore. They want to make her alone and mad. While looking at their mirrors in the dreamscape, the odd sisters notice a blanket of darkness coming over them. Their other sister, Circe, who has not been cursed into the dreamscape, has taken away their powers. They can no longer mess with people through the mirrors. The odd sisters are angry at this and swear to kill everyone Circe loves in hopes it will bring her back to them.

Rapunzel finds her happily every after and Gothel dies. It goes back to Circe and she is with Snow White. They agree to go visit Tiddlebottom to make her life right then they will go visit Rapunzel and attend her wedding.

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