She knew the recipe by heart, could recite it in her sleep, and yet she was always careful to work with the book beside her, open at the same dusty page, the ink worn with long use.
To not do so would result in an altogether different kind of gingerbread – no less sweet, but somehow… lacking. It would serve, of course. But it would not smell the way the book’s baking smelled: enticing and heady, full of rapture and delight, as though to not eat of it would be your very ruin.
Greta knew how it felt. She had known the sweetness of the witch’s gingerbread, could recall its hold upon her still. The little gingerbread house that had so entranced her and
her brother all those years ago had been crafted with more than just cinnamon and cloves, honey and eggs and ginger; there was magic in it too, seeping from the book’s pages, working its way into the dough. It was not only hunger that had driven them to eat it.
Ginger. Honey. Cinnamon. Flour.
Twenty years after the witch in the gingerbread house, Greta and Hans are struggling to get by. Their father and stepmother are long dead, Hans is deeply in debt from gambling, and the countryside lies in ruin, its people starving in the aftermath of a brutal war.
Greta has a secret, though: the witch’s grimoire, secreted away and whispering in Greta’s ear for the past two decades, and the recipe inside that makes the best
gingerbread you’ve ever tasted. As long as she can bake, Greta can keep her small family afloat. But in a village full of superstition, Greta and her mysteriously addictive gingerbread, not to mention the rumours about her childhood misadventures, are a source of gossip and suspicion.
And now, dark magic is returning to the woods and Greta’s magic – magic she is still trying to understand – may be the only thing that can save her. If it doesn’t kill her first.
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