Maire arrives in Carmine without any memory of how she got there. A kind couple take her in and she spends her days baking sweets infused with love, hope, or strength. That is Maire’s gift: she can impart these things through her cakes. She has a good life, one which she may yet share with Cleric Tuck. But before she can find out what an ordinary life in Carmine might hold for her, she meets a ghostly form from her past, a winged man named Fyel, who desperately wants her to remember who she is.
Before she can pursue her lost memories, marauders tear through her home, capturing her. Maire finds herself enslaved by the cruel Allemas, who demands that she make magical cakes for him. Fyel promises to help Maire, but she must recover her memories before Allemas destroys her.
This story has a really fresh, unique feel to it. I think one of my favorite elements was that when Allemas asks Maire to make cakes for him, the orders and customers come from familiar fairytale stories. For example, she’s asked to make a gingerbread house covered with candy. A lonely woman begs her to make a living gingerbread boy. It definitely added this feeling that the author and readers were sharing an inside joke that the characters were unaware of. I liked that a lot and thought it was pretty clever.
I loved Fyel. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like him. But as the story progresses he shows such devotion to Maire, yet he allows her a lot of independence and respect. I liked that he didn’t just bulldoze over her and push her around, but he’s no weakling either.
Fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone or Melissa Grey’s The Girl at Midnight should definitely give this book a read. This is the first novel by Charlie N. Holmberg that I’ve read, but I now I’m eager to read others. I’ve heard great things about The Paper Magician, so I hope to give that one a read soon.
The fantasy landscape is vast and drives by the identities of various cultures as Maire wonders where she’s from. As she recovers her memory, her skin turns a deep red. She learns that others from her home come in different colors.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Maire remembers making love to her husband in a brief scene. She shares kisses with him and with another man.
The characters believe in many gods and in the existence of assistants who craft the landscapes of worlds. The gods breathe life into creation but crafters create the world before they arrive. At one point, Maire interacts with a silvery substance like a soul.
Raiders capture Maire and others and sell them as slaves. Maire’s new master treats her with some cruelty, locking her in a cellar and forgetting to feed her. He’s a bit creepy.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.