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Literature / The Girl In The Tower

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The Girl in the Tower by ML Lanzillotta is a dark retelling of "Rapunzel".

On her 13th birthday, Rose's adoptive mother (a kindly witch) locks her in a tower deep in Grimmland's darkest, dreariest forest. After three peaceful years a man finds the tower. He rapes and impregnates Rose.

When the witch finds out, she refuses to believe that the man forced her. Furious, she sends the pregnant Rose away... forcing her to wander Grimmland, relying on the charity of others to survive and meeting a variety of odd people.

Tropes Found In This Book Include:

  • Abusive Parents: Numerous examples. Judy's mother (a witch) doses her own daughter with magical potions to keep her young and adorable, so she'll be able to keep performing in music halls and earning her mother money. The Witch, on the other hand, locks Rose in a tower in a misguided (and ultimately pointless) attempt to keep her safe.
  • Adopted into Royalty: Rose's twins Eddy and Eliza are taken in by their biological father, King Henry.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Lisette, the peculiar girl Rose takes in near the end, is pretty quirky. Rose herself might also qualify because of how detached and strange she is. Of course, that might be from all the trauma.
  • Broken Bird: Rose is locked in a tower, raped by a strange man, abandoned by her mother, forced to leave at just sixteen home while preganant, nearly killed in a fire, and widowed horrifically.
  • Child by Rape: Rose' twins, Eddy and Eliza, count.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Well, more like dangerous 13th Birthday... but the trope still applies.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Philander Tartuffe, among others.
  • Magic Carpet: How Rose gets into the tower in the first place.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: A dark, disturbing version of the fairy tale "Rapunzel".
  • Girl in the Tower: Rose is locked away in a tower.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Queen Dulcibella.
  • The Hero's Birthday: The book begins with Rose's 13th Birthday Gift-Hunt (every year her mother hides presents around the house and gives Rose clues to help her find them). Her final gift this year is, of course, the tower that serves as her home and prison for three long years.
  • King Incognito: King Henry when he goes hunting in the forest and stumbles upon Rose's tower.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Queen Dulcibella wants children more than anything, yet she's infertile. Rose, on the other hand, gives birth to twins after being raped. To add insult to injury, Dulcibella's husband King Henry is the father of Rose's children..
  • Low Fantasy: Magic and witches exist in Grimmland, though King Henry has been trying to stamp them out.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narrator of the frame story (a wealthy Grimmland poet from the city, who decides to write a book about a mysterious, chain-smoking woman - Rose - who frequents a local pub).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Witch locks Rose in a tower to keep herself. Of course, if Rose had remained at home with her mother instead of being sent away to live in the tower, she never would've been raped.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: a number of Queen Dulcibella's gorgeous outfits count.
  • Rape as Drama: Prince Henry raping Rose kicks off the plot. The incident traumatizes her into extreme apathy. She's barely able to connect with anyone ever again.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Rose, obviously.