There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls...or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home.
A girl's (Nadya) town is being tormented by the mysterious disappearances of local women. The incidents arise after reported missing girls from nearby towns. This is followed closely by a harsh winter where the girl's father had to sell his modes of transportation in order to support his family. Soon after the third local disappearance, the girl begins to suspect Karina, a local baker, of being a witch and luring the girls into the woods. Karina marries the girl's father, Maxim, and begins to torment her. She starves Nadya, locks her in her room, steals the food she finds, and prevents her father from showing her affection. Nadya runs away and lives with a kind witch in the woods. The witch turns her into a raven temporarily at her request so that she might spy upon Karina. Nadya flies home the following spring and is sent with a gingerbread creation made in her image. The gingergirl approaches her home and meets with Maxim and Karina. Karina responds sadly, stroking the girls cheek and excuses herself to visit a friend. Maxim hugs is daughter and begins to kiss her, apologizing desperately all the while. He begins to eat the gingergirl, whom he believes is his daughter, and gorges himself on her flesh. He is found dead in the morning and a convicted for the deaths of the other girls. Nadya realizes the foreign disappearances and the local changes corresponds with his loss of transportation and the Karina was sacrificing herself to hold Maxim's attention. Her father is buried without religious speakings and Nadya becomes a power witch under the tutelage of Magda (the kind witch in the woods).
- Maxim Grushov - a woodcutter and carpenter in Duva.
- Nadya - the daughter of Maxim.
- Havel - Nadya's older brother.
- Karina Stoyanova - a widow who later marries Maxim after his first wife dies.
- Magda - the witch of Duva.
- The original title was The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale.
- This story will be published in The Language of Thorns in September 2017.