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Fantasy Fiction Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Egalley thanks to 47North

Synopsis from Goodreads

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.
When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.
During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.
From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


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I haven't read The Paper Magician, so this was my first encounter with Charlie N. Holmberg. She is very whimsical and refreshing, although a bit confusing at times.

Maire lives in a small village she stumbled in over 4 years ago with amnesia. The only thing she knew was her name, and she has a very unusual talent of infusing cakes and cookies she bakes with wishes - for hope, for love, for strength, etc. She only needs to imagine the right feelings while she makes something and it stays in it. She is happy and falling in love until her village is raided and she is sold into slavery.

Allemas, her owner, is very strange, and seems to know exactly what she is capable of. Her attempts to escape fail and she suffers the consequences while Allemas finds her clients who weirdly enough come from familiar stories - Alice in Wonderland, Hansel & Gretel, The Gingerbread Man...

At the same time Maire, depressed, in pain and angry, keeps seeing a ghostly being with wings who is desperately trying to make her remember who she is without actually saying it. Deep down Maire knows Fyel, the ghost, and soon enough she herself starts changing and realizes she is not from this world.

The is a lovely fantasy read, light on world-building and focused  more on a personal journey, at times heartbreaking and jaggedly violent, but also quite beautiful. I won't hesitate to pick Miss Holmberg's book again, but I admit I'd have to be in the right mood. Recommended.

* * *
Я не читала "Бумажную Магию", так что это было моё первое столкновение с Чарли Холмберг. Её перо свежо и чарующе, хотя местами в нём можно заплутать.

Мэйр живёт в деревушке, куда прибрела больше 4-х лет назад с потерей памяти. Единственное, что она помнит это её имя. У неё необычный талант - печь пироги, торты и печенья, проникнутые желаниями и эмоциями, надеждой, любовью, проницательностью, силой воли и т.д. Она счастлива и чуть ли не влюблена в местного клерика, когда в деревню врываются рэйдеры. Мэйр продана в рабство, и её хозяин, Аллемас, очень странный человек.

Между побоями, криками и приказами испечь ему пирог, Аллемас умудряется найти ей клиентов, которые непонятно как оказываются из знакомых нам сказок - Алиса в Стране Чудес, Хансель и Гретель, Пряничный Человек... Что-то происходит с самой Мэйр. Она видит время от времени призрачного мужчину с крыльями, который уверяет её, что её знает и что ей необходимо вспомнить кто она такая, её внешний вид и способности постепенно меняются, пока всё происходящее наконец не складывается в мозаику, и читатель видит полную картину.

Это милое фэнтези, лёгкое на построение мира и сосредоточенное на личном путешествии и осознании себя. Временами оно темно и наполнено болью и вспышками насилия, но в нём также есть вычурные, красивые, меланхоличные моменты. Рекомендую, но читать надо под настроение, иначе не пойдёт.
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