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Gingerbread' Is A Deliciously Dark Tale of Family, Friendship, and Class

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Gingerbread: A Novel
By Helen Oyeyemi
(Riverhead Books)

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In her six novel, Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi finds inspiration in fairy tales, as she did with her 2014 novel, Boy, Snow, Bird, and her 2016 short story collection, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. This time, we follow Harriet, a beautiful woman in her 30s with a teenage daughter, Perdita. Both mother and daughter are prematurely gray, and both find it difficult to make friends. Harriet still feels tied to her childhood companion, Gretel, and Perdita's main confidants are for dolls who have sprouted plants from their bodies and learned to speak. Harriet was born in the mysterious country of Druhástrana, and fled for Britain when she was a teenager—taking nothing but a possibly magical gingerbread recipe. As Perdita grows, she yearns to visit Druhástrana to solve the mystery of who her father is. The gingerbread may hold the answer.

Oyeyemi incorporates fairy tale elements, magical realism, and multiple framing devices to draw readers deeper into her story, building up the mysteries of Druhástrana and taking the plot through unexpected twists. Fans of Oyeyemi’s work won’t want to miss it, and first-time readers will become fans, too. (5/5)

By Erika W. Smith
Gingerbread was released March 5, 2019
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

 

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