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.
©2016 Charlie N. Holmberg (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
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"A MUST READ, BEST BOOK I'VE READ IN A LONG TIME!"
im very hard to truly impress so i usually just rate books i dont give a review becaise i dont want to ruin a chance a a good reading experience for others by giving a review that may cause them to not read a book, but for a nice change i can say i couldn't ask for the book to be any better written or for a better story from the author and couldn't ask for any better narration. a great book all around. the story is one that I couldn't predict and one I'd never have dreamed up! the characters are all wonderful (even the "bad ones") and are all evolved and end up coming full circle and playing a bigger part in the story than expected even small ones.
I just can't say enough good things about this book so I'll just say it's a MUST READ
"Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet"
I guess it's a testament when you like an author's writing and a narrator's speaking enough to stick with a story that you really lost interest in halfway through. The premise I was intriguing and I love the Paper Magician series, so I thought this take on cooking emotions would be entertaining. A lot of the book was the main character overcoming enslavement and continuously being kept in the dark about her origins. I wish I could give this a better rating, but it just wasn't the story I was looking forward to by the end.
This story was very creative, however, it was also depressing. I almost didn't finish it because it seemed like there was no redeeming quality to it. I think it could have been more magical and less depressing. I would not re on end it.
"Brilliantly executed premise, well narrated"
Ms. Holmberg baked into her story intriguing characters, even the least lovable among them evokes some empathy (despite some serious nastiness). Her world is rich with smells, sound and myth come alive. Her story arcs in sometimes surprising ways and enters dark corners but never artificially or without purpose. I devoured this delectable treat in a couple of days and wish to immediately jump back into Raea. I cannot recommend it enough.
Imagine taking a Greek tragedy (and the related pantheon of gods), merge into it the story of the Fall and Original Sin and twirl in a mixture of fairy tales; never mind being able to “bake in inspiration”. That’s Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet. It’s one thing to have a brilliant premise, it’s another to execute that well. Ms. Holmberg delivers in spades. She takes us along Maire’s painful journey of discovery of her own story. It’s a challenging world into which she has fallen, much like medieval Europe, full of might-makes-right and enslavement, as well as love, hope, and friendship. Maire’s “owner” is clearly not quite right. Not only is he devoid of a moral compass, he’s even devoid of common sense. So, he looks to the world around him to give him some clue of how to be in it. Given that sends him mixed messages, he’s not quite sure what that to do. As abusive and disgusting as he can be, he’s also an intriguing character of conflicting and foreign makeup. He is not only not normal, but he is “other”. He is not of this world. So even while you despise him, there is some empathy towards his plight. It’s a little like despising a snake that bites you. He cannot be other than he is. He cannot reflect and grow into something more even as he does learn to “fake it” better. He is limited by his very nature in an even more profound way than humans are.
Maire’s antagonist is also a bit of an entrepreneur; his business deals bring us into the world of fairy tales. Charlie Holmberg weaves these tales within the overall story in clever ways with just enough of a twist to make them new. While this is a fun sideline from the main thrust of the narrative, it’s integrated well and certainly adds to the overall enjoyment of the story. While no individual element of this world is completely new, Charlie Holmberg combines them in intriguing and innovative ways.
The characters are well developed; these are primarily Maire and Allemas, but also Arrice, Franc and Fyel. The relationships are complicated. Arrice and Franc essentially adopt Maire even though she’s appears to be a young woman when they meet her. Fyel is the ultimate tightlipped mystery man who appears to be connected with Maire and on her side, but for some reason doesn’t directly help her. Maire and Allemas have an often bizarre, disturbing and ever-changing relationship. At times, Allemas seems to treat her as property while at others he evinces a more intimate connection.
In terms of her writing style, I love how the dialogue matches the characters so well, especially for Allemas. Even his speech patterns are bizarre. Because Fyel feels he must hold his cards close to the vest, his halting attempts to communicate with Maire are a study in frustration. Arrice’s speech brings forth her loving and nurturing nature as Cleric Tuck’s conveys his competence and care. In other words, there’s a great fit between the manner of communicating and the characters themselves.
Like most journeys, the path on which Magic bitter, Magic Sweet takes you has many unknowns and a number of surprises; the journey takes you along in a different manner than you might think and leaves you at a slightly different place than you anticipated. I think the magic of this story is how she melds these disparate elements of myth, magic, and misdeed. While it’s a time of worn phrase, this is a novel where the whole is greater than its parts. At least for me, this journey is well worth the effort; it is enlightening and full of points that inspire reflection. I highly encourage you to take the journey as well.
Kate Rudd narrates the audiobook. She has fast become one of my favorite narrators and this book is indicative of why. Her flavor for each character is spot on, her pacing beautifully reflects the book and the ability to understand her, even in the midst of emotionally charged sections, is lovely. I think I last heard her in Rysa Walker’s Chronicles File series. It was interesting to note that she definitely has a go-to competent-caring-male voice she used there as well as in this book. Overall, I love her performance which mixes just the right emotional energy while maintaining clear enunciation.
For full review, see Joe's Geek Fest at Wordpress
"Genuine, haunting, and raw"
It's a story that speaks of raw pain and sorrow of loss while finding in the depths of the soul to have mercy. The sentiments are genuine and haunting.
It is a bittersweet story but I feel most will identify with that.
I really loved Kate Rudd's performance of the story! Her voice was able to convey all the characters greatly!
Warning to those who may be easily triggered though. I found there were moments that were hard to get through and had to take a break.
I really enjoyed this book up until the end, it almost felt like a chapter was missing! I liked that the story was unique and unpredictable. The characters were well built and the narrator did a good job! I would recommend this book!
really good book. starts off slow but picks up and becomes great. definitely something to check out.
"Well Written, Inventive and Good Ending"
The elusive character Fyel, the tormented character who kept changing his name, along with the unknown background of the main character Maire kept the story moving at an even and steady pace; and I wasn't able to predict what was ahead in each chapter. The "magic" referred to in the title is not what I thought it would be either (definitely not like the magic in Practical Magic). much more to it, and I loved the reference to a fairy tale witch. Overall, the story was more than I expected and it did not disappoint.
"Amazing and unique read."
I loved this book and had to listen to the end without stopping. I seriously hope it will become a series. There is a great deal of potential story lines with these characters. One of the best stories I've ever listened to or read. The author is incredibly talented. I can't wait for many more of her creations.
"This story was awesome!!!"
Just read it. And don't stop until it has changed your life. Because it will.
Starts a bit slow, but picks up ans stays there. Itis also a bit predictable, but even so it is intresting and a good time.
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