Release Date: April 27, 2023
Publisher: Nyx Publishing
I used to know the Devil, only back then he was called Arthur, and he was a seventy-eight-year-old dairy farmer from Yorkshire.
Kat is haunted by memories of her past. Memories of her first job at a nursing home, where Arthur Shipton would raise hell in search of his flat cap. Of boyfriends who preferred prettier girls, and the cakes she ate to fill her hungry heart. Now thirty, no amount of comfort food can help her get over her divorce. But Stella-Arthur’s granddaughter-might.
Beautiful and mysterious, there’s something about Stella that inspires Kat to leave the safety of her couch. She can’t help but think Stella has something to do with Arthur’s recent death, but the closer she gets to Stella, the less it matters. With Stella’s magical pull, Kat feels an old hunger-one long since buried with the crumbs of cake-reawaken.
Cake Craft is a dark, bisexual novella set in the Gothic moors of Yorkshire with a pinch of the paranormal. It’s a story of trauma, desire, and hunger-and a whole lot of Grandma’s ginger sponge.
This edition also contains the following short stories by Hannah-Freya Blake: ‘Mother Magpie’, ‘House Proud’, and ‘Old Jack’.
Cake Craft probably isn’t what you’re expecting. The cover copy is surprisingly accurate, but the story still threw me for a loop. As a young adult, Kat met a miserable old man while she worked in a retirement home. Years later, he dies under mysterious circumstances. To ease the itch of curiosity, she goes to his funeral. The family of all women pull her into their clutches, and she finds herself falling for Stella. Weirdness abounds at the family estate, but as long as she has Stella by her side (and in her bed), she’s willing to accept just about anything.
This was a strange novella, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s got an off-kilter tone, at once charming and unsettling. It feels a little like a short story expanded into a novella, both to its detriment and benefit. Hannah-Freya Blake is very good at keeping the reader on the edge. The short stories also included in the book are enticing. I’m looking forward to reading more from her.
Available through bookshop.org (affiliate link)