I will freely admit that the reason I originally wanted to read this book was the cover. I mean, look at it, it is GORGEOUS. And then while I was busy ogling the cover, I noticed at the very bottom that it was written by the author of The Paper Magician (a book I’ve never read, but heard tremendous things about). I do own the book, its just never made it to the top of my TBR list. After reading Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet — The Paper Magician (along with every other book written by Charlie N. Holmberg) has skyrocketed to the top of my To-Be-Read list.
The premise of the book sounds magical enough. Maire is a baker that is able to infuse emotions and abilities into her baked goods. The resulting delight passes the emotion/ability on to the lucky patron that indulges in it. The only problem? She doesn’t know how she does this… Or even who she is.
The writing is magical from the start.
It’s when I stand that I see him ahead of me, hovering in the grove of trees. Their leaves filter the sunlight into wide beams, but the bands of light pass right through him, as though he were nothing more than a shadow.
That strange sensation returns, quickening my heart, prickling my fingers.
Blinking to ensure I do see him, I step forward, careful to avoid the roach’s path. He has a man’s shape, yes, but strange wings stem from above either elbow. Narrower than a bird’s, they seem to be shaped from sunlit water rather than feathers. He hovers a few feet above the ground, yet the wings don’t flap, nor do they look large enough to support him.
The entire book is written like that. With quiet language that forms powerful images. I couldn’t even narrow that quote down to just a few powerful sentences, because every sentence felt so imperative to the whole.
Starting out, I felt a little off kilter as I was reading. I didn’t recognize any of the names of places and didn’t really know “where” I was in the world. I wasn’t even quite sure if the book was supposed to be taking place in a fantasy world, or on Earth in a historical period. As the book progressed (and Maire remembered more of herself) I felt more at home in the world that she built. It felt like a natural progression. Unsure of the world and not knowing who she was in the beginning and then gradually learning bits and pieces about herself and the world around her. I don’t want to give anything away, but everything came together in a delightful and unexpected way.
The ending was unlike anything I had prepared for. As I was reading I was falling in love with this book and these characters. I was sure that I would be disappointed when it ended because I believe the best books usually need more than one book to fully tell their story. I was dreading the ending because I thought it would feel forced or rushed. The ending was beautiful and extraordinary and unlike anything I have ever read before. And it was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Publication date: June 28, 2016
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review BUT I loved it so much I preordered a physical copy for my bookshelf.