Saturday, February 16, 2019

Food That Goes Bump in the Night

Image by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
I was talking to my editor about a scene that involved a feast and we got sidetracked on how food can become a character, showing us as much about a culture as their clothes, art, dance and music. How it is grown, harvested, prepared, the seasons and the seasonings, are part of a map to the story's worldbuilding.

And in Fantasy, food can also be magic. I thought it would be fun to play with some examples today.

Margaret Atwood's very first novel had a magical realism feel to me. Her use of food as a mirror of the main character, Marian, created a vivid story of shifting identity, self-awareness and lose of Self. representing Marian's identity.

Both the book and the film, Chocolat, delighted me. The creation of the chocolates seemed like an alchemical process to me and the senses that awake in the process, spellbinding!

And speaking of spellbinding alchemy, The Book of Unholy Mischief turns pages into a journey of the senses. "Luciano is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. It's an initiation into a rich and aromatic world filled with seductive ingredients and secrets..."

The magic in this book is mouthwatering, and the 'gift' the child receives more a curse... or is it. The element of emotional communication and the uncertainty of feeling 'for another' had my attention right from the start.

Holmberg's book is almost a reverse alchemy of Amiee Benders's above. In Magic Bitter, Magie Sweet, Marie doesn't sense the emotions of others through eating but can instil emotions and powers into things she bakes. A whole new look at the Gingerbread Man, that's for sure.

One of the earliest uses of food as magic comes to us via fairy tales where food is not only enchanting but once eaten, ordinary food tastes like dust. 

What I love the most about food as magic, is that it crosses genres, generating a sub-genre of its own that includes fantasy, historical, romance, contemporary, crime, mystery, thriller and of course YA and children's books. ie Snow White anyone? 

What books with food, magical or otherwise, are your favourites? I'd love to hear.

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Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. Also check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment SeriesYou can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Kim also runs where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

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