NOTE: This post discusses a fictional character who has a history of self-harm. If you find this distressing/triggering/upsetting then please feel free to not read this post.
Blurb from GoodReads:
Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew a reclusive, real-life gentle giant she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.
Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes-which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?
Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.
I really loved many parts of this whimsical, uplifting and unusually imaginative book. The characters were refreshing and relatable, and I loved the touches of magical realism sprinkled through this short novel- the way certain characters are able to sense sugar- i.e seeing it as silver sparkles, how Emily’s wallpaper changed to suit her mood, Dulcie’s crescent moon charm bracelet, how Emily’s gentle, lonely grandfather was over eight feet tall. Parts of it were nothing short of enchanting. I also loved the refreshing, inventive descriptions and use of imagery. (SPOILER) However, one of my favourite characters, Julia- a talented baker- had a history of self harm and to be honest I found this upsetting to read about- so much so that in the end I had to skip those scenes. I also didn’t like the way it felt, to me, to be introduced as a shock moment, with no real warning. I really like Julia’s character and didn’t like to think of her suffering in that way. Even though Julia was a survivor, I also felt it jarred with the magical escapist tone of the rest of the novel. I also felt as though Emily and Win ‘s love story was a bit too ‘instalove’, although I did adore the ending. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in future.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Read if you enjoyed: ‘Practical Magic’ by Alison Hoffman (read my full review here.)
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