Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg
Release date: 28.06.2016 by 47North
Rating: 4/5 stars
I received this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: 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 I saw this book on Netgalley, I immediately requested it. I have read Charlie N. Holmberg’s Paper Magician trilogy before, and really enjoyed it. So I was curious to see what she would bring next. Plus, the premise of this book sounds amazing. Note: I edited the synopsis from Goodreads. I removed a bunch of stuff, that isn’t really a spoiler. Yet I feel like it is more fun to read, just knowing this (that’s what I did).
This seems to play out in a medieval sort of fantasy setting -as most fantasy novels do. It has horses, carriages, slaves and blacksmiths. I absolutely love it. The main character starts out living in a small town, where she owns a bakery shop. She lives with a married couple whose children have left. Throughout the story, she travels a lot of the land -though not trekking through it necessarily.
I did enjoy the world of this story, although I have to admit that I only started to get really into it by the last quarter of the story. That’s when you discover a lot more about the whole world, in general. I definitely enjoyed that part, and the discoveries Maire makes. I thought it was so intriguing, the link with her magic and her memories!
I also loved the tiny references to other (fairy) tales throughout! I don’t know whether I picked up on every single one, but I do remember 2 or 3 references at least? That was such a fun addition!
I do wish I would have had a map. I don’t think there was one in the Kindle arc I received. Without a map, the towns they visited were just names, you know?
I don’t really want to say much here. Like I mentioned before, this is one of those books you should go into knowing as little as possible. Because the main character Maire has lost two decades of memories, there is much she doesn’t know. Therefore, there is much that you as the reader don’t know. You get to discover the world, and her past, along with her.
I have to admit that I was confused for a while, thinking: where is this going? And I also have to admit that I did not see the twist coming. And the ending left me a tad confused -but maybe that was just me?
Overall, I really liked the story line of this book. Slowly piecing together the past and the truth is an appealing way of reading.
So, obviously I have to talk about Maire. She is the main character, after all. I loved her gift, let me just say that. Maire makes cakes. Not just any cake. No, she infuses them with emotions. For example, she makes a lavender cake while thinking about all the minor acts of hope she has seen in the past years. When someone eats from this cake, they will feel a burst of hope. Isn’t that amazing? She makes cakes like this for hope, love, strength, endurance, silliness and so on. Isn’t that just FANTASTIC? I want them! Lavender cakes, chocolate cakes, gingerbread, basil -you name it. So many different choices.
I liked how Maire didn’t give up easily, but knew when to let go as well. She felt like a true person to me. How she looked for answers, often leading to her being hurt. How she was always kind, even though people didn’t really deserve it at times.
There are many other characters in this story. but I don’t want to spoil any surprises for you. I think Fyel was super sweet. I think Allemas was incredibly creepy, but I also felt bad for him. I don’t like Cleric Tuck. I have no clue why. I just don’t.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this story. I think it was a fun and interesting fantasy read. Beware though, because all I wanted to do was eat cake after reading this.