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Reviews of Gingerbread Children

I have read lots and lots of Terry Pratchett books - and I think I have found a new author with a distinct voice that stands shoulder to shoulder with him.

Just finished this fabulous book by Carol Carman in 2 sittings! Such was my enthusiasm. Loved it. Great storytelling. Witty, thoughtful, clever with characters that stay with you and a story that romps along at a pace that is hugely entertaining – and requires good quality mental running shoes to keep up.

I have read lots and lots of Terry Pratchett books – and happily I think I have found a new author with a distinct voice that stands shoulder to shoulder with him. I fully intend to adopt the ‘pea principle ‘ in all that I do……

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Break-neck pace... more twists and turns than a country mile... has the reader guessing to the last... J K Rowling on speed.

When Imelda McGinty, Matriarch of The University of Nature, pops her clogs… little could she suspect that she is setting in train a series of events that takes in kidnap, possible murder, neo-cannibalism, eugenics, a 500 year curse and a hostage negotiation that makes the Brexit talks look like a Sunday market haggle.

All of this within the, at first sight, innocuous context of a story about a school for witches. Do not be fooled. This is no kids’ story, nor even a kids’ story for adults. It is full blooded grown-up fare. The plot rattles along at break-neck pace with more twists and turns than a country mile to a complex and masterfully woven denoument that has the reader guessing to the last.

Carman makes use of some familiar devices in this her first novel: the story within a story, good versus bad (albeit updated to the realms of raging capitalism versus altruism) pantomime heroes (in this case heroines) and villains but it is the way in which she deploys her armoury that is alchemic, positively well……witchcraft!

There is no disguising the acerbic wit… It cuts through like a lemon palate-cleanser after a fatty meat course. Readers beware. You have to be on your toes because the gags and quips come thick and fast; very thick and very fast… The author manages the trick of tugging on your heartstrings whilst seemingly simultaneously making your ribs ache with laughter.

Fantasy? Whodunnit? Drama? It is an unwise man, woman or witch that would claim easily to pigeon-hole ‘Gingerbread Children’. J K Rowling on speed is the closest I would essay. In reality – a moot term in this novel of trickery, spells and shape changing – the book lives in a world of its own. It is funny, easy to read, artfully written and absorbing. What’s not to like?


Bob Elvis, author of ‘Old Friends’, ‘Memories of Mother India 2018’, ‘The Village’, ‘Significant Others’ and ‘Jig Doller’.

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I think Sir Terry Pratchett would have loved this book as much as I did.

I have just this minute finished Gingerbread Children and I am already pining for the next book!

I smiled at the nod to Douglas Adams, laughed out loud at Secure Igor (that is genius) and I nearly spat my tea out at the Dirty Harry scene.

I think Sir Terry Pratchett would have loved this book as much as I did.
So…. when’s the next one due??

Martin Smith via Facebook

Highly recommended to anyone who's ever enjoyed a book from the likes of Terry Pratchett or Piers Anthony.

A fanciful story of witches, murder, curses and gingerbread, with delightfully colourful characters and their familiars.

The story is wonderfully written, including the story within the story, and I really enjoyed reading them both, all the way from the beautifully illustrated entrance door to the final crumb at the end.

Highly recommended to anyone who’s ever enjoyed a book from the likes of Terry Pratchett or Piers Anthony.

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A terrific read from start to finish...more from this world please!

Gingerbread Children is a delightful book that draws you in to the fantastical and magical world of ‘The University of Nature’. As the plot unfolds it is genuinely hard to put this book down, beautifully written, as it is, with a gentle humour and well observed, engaging characters. 

A terrific read from start to finish…more from this world please!

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Highly recommended for the fantasy fan.

This book is delightful, funny and well written; the characters are well observed and all add to the story. Highly recommended for the fantasy fan.

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Would highly recommend everybody to read this!

Such an amazing book from start to finish. Absolutely loved the characters and how they were portrayed in this novel. Would highly recommend everybody to read this!

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Very distinctive and original; rich, lapidary, colourful, spooky, jolly, weird and complex.

I dipped, just to get a sense of it, and it began to close in on me in an intrusive way I quite resent. It eroded my prejudice [against fantasy novels] like pumice on a cracked heel. Very distinctive, non-derivative and original; rich, dense, lapidary, colourful, spooky, jolly, weird and complex.

As I go through it I am panning for gold and you never fail me: cupcakes like choristers … a scream that chills the sap in the trees … so long ago it was someone else’s time … enough hidden pockets to remedy the storage problems of the most ambitious conjurer.  

It is the little gems you stud it with – syrup smiles as it is poured and [one character] “opened her mouth to speak but her brain got there first and closed her mouth again,” the unused words emerging from her nose as a sigh.   

I try to put it aside as fodder for the magic fans but it asserts itself as a sustained, solid, serious piece of work, often very funny, amazingly consistent. Crisp one-liners, surprising allusions, original perceptions.

When reading any book I want to feel I am surrendering to a safe pair of hands.  Your readers will feel that they are. 

Christopher South

Journalist, Author and BBC broadcaster


Marks out of 10? Got to be a 10.

I have to be honest, I wouldn’t normally pick up a fantasy novel. I normally go for murder mystery. But a friend recommended this book, so I thought I would give it a go.

From the very start, I was captivated by the descriptive writing. Every little detail of each scene that was being played out, made you able to visualise it as if you were actually there.

It had me laughing out loud, at one point, had me in tears.

And to have two stories cleverly entwined, with such wonderful characters – I found myself caring deeply to what happened to them.

I don’t want to give the game away, but suffice to say, I hope there will be a sequel. And I could easily see this in film format. Like Hocus Pocus, it had a similar feel, but in my opinion, a far more intricate plot. 

Marks out of 10? Got to be a 10.

Do yourself and family a favour. Xmas is coming. Make someone smile!

ND

Sent to our office

Truly full of delight on every page bar none. I can’t wait for a sequel.

I normally don’t do fantasy, but what a delightful read. I try to avoid superlatives, but I think Carol’s style may be unique and truly full of delight on every page bar none. 

If you have a magical daughter, you might like to suggest she take a degree at the University of Nature where Mother Nature is the supreme being. The prospectus ‘whispers of botany, aromatherapy and meditation‘. 

The usual university power struggle for the post of Matriarch, (Chancellor in layspeak) drives the book, together with the resolution of a particularly nasty  magic spell. It’s big on cats, specifically the principals’ familiars whose characters are so as beautifully common or posh. 

After leaving a particularly difficult spell fizzing in the Dictionary (the repository of spells active and otherwise) tutors and students retire to the Brewshed for a pint of Carson’s Gutwrencher. 

Did you wonder how to store a broomstick in say a particularly small drawer? It has a patent hinge in the shaft. If you’ve ever speculated on the construction of a gingerbread house, look no further; shortbread bricks, grissini roof trusses (what else!), crispbread slates and licorice gutters and downpipes. 

I can’t wait for a sequel.

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A brilliant read

This was a brilliant read… enjoyed every part of the book and will recommend it to all my friends and family. 

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