Hagen’s Curse

James Emmi. Hydrama Fiction, $9.50 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-0-692-74563-2
Emmi’s debut plays out in Hagen, a vaguely European medieval city famous for the delectable treats churned out by Hans Heckler, a descendent of revered baker Margarete Heckler, whose statue stands before City Hall. Caught between fairy tale, romance, and fable and top-heavy with exposition, the book follows what happens after beekeper Anika Everhart bakes the first cake to rival Heckler’s time-tested recipes. Jonathan Van Brandt, Hans’s apprentice, gets fed up with the way things are done in his bakery and goes to work for Anika. After Anika’s cake is declared the winner of Easter Feast, Hans, the Reverend Abbing, and others band together to squelch her ambitions. Most characters fit easily into stereotypes, such as the greedy and calculating wife, the zealous cleric, and the meddling matron. Even central characters such as Jonathan, Anika, and Hans are thinly drawn and afforded little more than one driving desire apiece (Jonathan wants Anika, Anika wants to bake, and Hans wants to be a tailor), and the pace switches between near-standstill and improbable action scenes. There are also detailed erotic encounters disturbing in their misogyny (“there was nothing but an all-consuming desire to claim her, in every way possible, both in body and soul, and the sense that his own loins gave him the means”). Purple prose and a convoluted plot leave this cautionary culinary tale starving for depth. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 07/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 206 pages - 978-1-0878-9692-2
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