My Synopsis (No Spoilers):
Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet opens in a quaint little bakery in a quaint little town called Carmine. Maire, our narrator and protagonist, crafts “influential cake.” And no, when she says “influential” she does not mean that they’re delicious (well they are delicious too), she means that she can bake feelings, emotions, and abilities into her cakes, pies, and cookies. She can bake a cake imbued with love, or a tart filled with intelligence, or a cookie with humor. She doesn’t know why she can do this–or rather, she can’t remember. In fact, she can’t remember anything past four years ago when her friend, Arrice, found her dirty and bruised on the side of the road and took her into her home. She opens her bakeshop one morning, just as she does every other day, and sets to work mixing a batter infused with love. What starts as a normal day, quickly turns on its head when she looks out her window and sees a ghost. She runs to him, a transparent young man with eyes whose color do not exist with wings so white, they appear impossible. She doesn’t know the man, but he knows her; in fact, he knows more about her than she does. Before she can even question him, desperate to remember the life she’s lost, marauders attack her village and she must flee to safety. Hiding and scared beyond belief, Maire is discovered in her bakeshop and taken to be sold as a slave by the marauders…
From the very start of this story, the reader can’t help but fall in love with Maire. An incredibly kind a gentle woman, Maire embodies all of the good qualities that humanity has to offer: altruism, selflessness, compassion, empathy, and a love of all things.
In my opinion, the most incredible part of this book is the writing. Holmberg weaves a fantastic story together with vivid language and incredible dynamic characters. Written in first person, we embark on this forced-adventure with Maire filled with danger, love, and self-exploration. You find yourself relating with Maire so much that her pain is yours, her love is yours, and her need to understand herself and remember who she is becomes yours.
While Maire struggles to remember who she is, she embraces her flaws, and reminds us that we are who we choose to be, not who others tell us to be.