Title: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet
Author: Charlie N. Holberg
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.
Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet has an interesting take on magic and beings all together. From average humans to gods to creators there is a diverse bunch of characters. The novel is set in a completely fictional world, with names of places such as Carmine, Rhea, and Umber. Even so, you can still imagine what these places look like with great description throughout the story. The novel follows the very kind and humble Maire, who can put emotions into her baked goods. But her magic is much more than putting love or luck into biscuts or cake, she’s very special.
Maire is found by Arrice on the side of the road bruised and void of any recollection of what happened to her. All she knows is her name. Arrice takes Maire with her where her and husband, Franc live and become sort of parents to her. She settles down and has a bake shop offering magically infused sweets. Each emotion has a flavor. But things for Maire start to get a little weird when a completely transparent man appears to her. And one day he tries to warn her, to save her, but he can’t. Marauders come and pillage the village, killing and snatching people as they go.
It’s there that she gets even further from her village when she’s sold to an odd man by the name of Allemas. Throwing her in the cellar to let her out days later to bake him something, she learns that he’s hiding something. He knows something about her that she doesn’t even know. She tries to find those secrets out, but Allemas is quite stubborn.
The mystery grows deep within the pages as Allemas begins to demand that Maire bake him something to make smarter or to name him all together. With pains that seem to overtake him, she confused but curious about him. As time progresses, they travel to jobs that he gets, one of which is building a house…a gingerbread house for a witch that loves children. The more visits she gets from Fyel and the more jobs she does, her memories start to come back to her and with that she changes altogether. Her skins turns red. She beings to realizes that she’s not from this world and determined more than ever she continues to ask question after question.
Fyel has made it clear that she has to remember on her own, that if he were to tell her anything and she denied it she would be lost forever. The truth obviously doesn’t get discovered until in the final chapters. Before she even has a chance to really figure it for herself and say goodbye to the people that helped her in her time on a planet that wasn’t hers, she’s drawn back to her ‘World’.
The true shocker is Allemas. I’m not a spoiler, but let me say that I cried…just a little for Maire’s heartache. The characters are well developed and each have their own personality. The plot was a little slow in the beginning with Maire being locked up and little conversation going on between her and Allemas, but as it progresses it does get better. As her memories come back and she starts to understand things, it gets quite intriguing. The story as a whole is very unique and even though some of the characters aren’t human they expressed typical human emotions making them relatable.
The ending was a bit confusing as we’re left with Maire having to receive a punishment for something she shouldn’t have done. It never really is stated what that punishment is, except the fact that it seems to be on the verge of repeating itself.