Firstly, huge thank you to James for getting in touch and sending me a copy of his novel in exchange for an honest review.
I was very intrigued when I read the description of the novel, it sounded very unique and had a dark, fairytale, quality to it. However, ultimately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations which I was surprised by as the novel has several very positive reviews!
Hagen’s Curse is set in the town of Hagen where baking is revered above all else. Or, rather, the baking of the Heckler family line is, with the bakery Heckler’s Delights being the heart of the town. However, one day, Hans Heckler’s reign as the best baker in town is called into question when beekeeper Anika Everhart produces a cake that brings one of the most important men in town to his knees. Is this the sign of a new generation of baking or witchcraft?
I didn’t find myself particularly attached to any of the characters. The only character I thought was interesting was Hans Heckler, there was so much to his story that I thought was well developed and I enjoyed him as an antagonist, even if I didn’t like him. I think there was a lot of potential for Anika Everhart’s character as I enjoyed the brief snippets we saw of her past, however I feel like she could have been developed more. Especially as she appeared to be unnecessarily naked a few times in the novel which felt out of place. I also felt the same with Jonathan, I thought his involvement with both Anika and Hans put him in a very interesting position that would have been great to see developed more.
The town itself seems quite unique with how they revere baking above most other things, however I would have appreciated more world-building explaining this as it was difficult to understand why baking and the Hecklers are so important to this town. The reasoning is touched upon in the beginning but could have been explored more. I did enjoy seeing the lengths that Hans was willing to go to in order to get his hands on Anika’s recipe, especially towards the end. Without giving away any spoilers, I also liked the way the novel ended too it just felt very fitting and satisfying.
This novel kept my interest enough for me to read it relatively quickly, which was due to the writing style, which I thought flowed nicely and I found it to be enjoyable. I think this novel could have been great if it was longer to enable to develop the world and the characters more, as they both had a lot of potential. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, Hagen’s Curse has many positive reviews on GoodReads so I urge you to check those out too!