I requested and received an advance copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.
And when this beautiful book arrived in the post (the cover is by Neil Lang and I think it’s stunning) I was itching to get going with it!
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories…Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
…and a journey it was – from modern day life through fairytale farms in non-existent countries, through ‘looking-glass’ cities with dark, gingerbread underbellies, and back to the familiar, albeit slightly warped!
This book is impossible to pin down and almost as hard to describe.
It’s a family saga but not like any you’ve ever read before, with an extremely eclectic cast.
It’s sort of magical realism but it’s a very matter of fact magic, if indeed it’s magic at all.
It’s a sharply observed commentary on society, politics, prejudice, feminism, class and more…But one that’s hidden in talking dolls, changelings in wells and not-haunted houses.
It’s like Margaret Astwood collided with Haruki Murakami in a fairytale world.
Deftly written with a lyrical beauty that’s laced through with a sharp wit, this book demonstrates a detailed knowledge, and love of, fairytales and their tropes as well as a shrewd understanding of people – of cliques, of types, of behaviours and, especially, of women and families.
I can’t lie, it’s not an easy read. There’s often a complaint that books don’t flow; if anything this flows so freely that it takes a bit of concentration to try and follow its weird and winding ways.
That said, I was snatching a page or two here and there where I could – I think if I could have read it in larger chunks, I would have followed much easier.
So if I have one piece of advice in regards to this book it is – Read It. But read it when you have time to really read it – lose yourself in it, allow yourself to luxuriate in it, indulge.