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.
published in 2016
I just finished reading this one and you can officially call me a fan of Charlie N. Holmberg’s writing. This was the 5th of her novels I read and I liked them all. They all have some things in common – they are short, magical, like fairy tales, have a plot that’s easy to follow and make me emotional!
In Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet we follow Maire, who has the ability to bake magical cakes. She can infuse her baking with her thoughts and that way, can make the person who eats it smarter, more caring, braver etc. You get it. It looks like she’s having a good life. Having her own bakery, a love interest and living with an elderly couple that treats her like a daughter. But Maire is missing her memories. She only remembers the last 4 years and doesn’t even know, why she can use magic.
This story is about Maire finding out who she is piece by piece. It’s very short, but very straight forward and doesn’t miss anything. Maire is a great character, she goes through so many changes and I could identify with her very well. Even her captor is not just a brute but has different shades to him. There are some surprises I didn’t see coming and the story has an ending that makes sense and leaves me happy & teary-eyed. Also, lots of baking, that will make you hungry for cakes & cookies!
You don’t have to write a multi-volume series to show some character development and get the reader invested. It also works perfectly well on 300 pages if you do it right.