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**I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
I have always adored Charlie Holmberg's books. Every. Single. One. I always think, each time I read her newest book, "There's no way this could better than the last one. It's just not possible." And each time, I am wrong. This is, without a doubt, her best book yet. I could write an essay explaining how I feel, but I'll try to keep this as brief as possible, without spoilers since that's not how I do reviews.
The story starts off with Maire, a 24-year-old woman without a past, who can bake spells into cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. She sees a man who is translucent - is he a ghost? He has what appears to be wings - is he a fairy? He can make the earth move - is he a god? And he knows her. He knows her from before. Soon after she sees him, a band of marauders come into her village. They kill many and enslave the rest. Maire is bought by what appears to be a madman, and she begins a journey to find out who she really is.
Without spoilers, I can't say a whole lot. This is one of those stories where there are so many twists and turns, and you're trying to figure out what comes next the entire time. If I tell you one thing, it will ruin the whole journey for you. I can give you snippets though. For one thing, the author has woven (truly, she is an artist) fairy tales into the story. I am not familiar with them all, but we get a glimpse of Alice in Wonderland, the house made of candy and the witch within who hungers for children, and gingerbread men who come to life. We also see worlds within worlds, how souls are made, and how special we, as humans, truly are. We can have what unearthly beings (gods, fae, whatever you believe in) cannot have - children. We create life, while they can only watch. They have a hand in the creation, but they can't truly call each one of us their own. And, here's the big question (or rather, two questions)...
What if the "higher power", those who watch over us, wanted a child of their own? How far would they go to have that?
I can say no more. You have to read it. Be warned - this is not one of those books you read mindlessly, without effort. Your mind is working the whole time. It's exhausting, it's frustrating at times, but the end makes it all worth it. Ms. Holmberg, I bow to you. You are a literary genius, and in my opinion, a writer that all other writers will aspire to be like.