With each turn of the page the atmosphere intensifies like a thickening winter, and you can feel the dark pushcha nights stretching beyond every margin. Gingerbread is a novel of perfect balance, where past reaches into present, cruel history into fable, and the land itself, the forests of old, into vulnerable human hearts.
Ali Shaw, Author of 'The Girl With Glass Feet'
In the border country of Belarus, that ancient place where primeval forests still cling to the land, an orphaned boy and his Grandfather go to scatter his mother’s ashes in the trees – and, unable to leave her behind, are drawn to living in a ruined cottage on the edge of the wild.
Soon, the boy begins to understand that the forests are not only the source of the folktales his Grandfather tells, but the home of terrible histories too: of mass graves and death marches, of decaying makeshift towns where partisans lived wild across the wars of the twentieth century. As his Grandfather’s fables grow more bloody and disturbing, he begins to perceive a black magic in the wilderness, a magic that is slowly corrupting his papa, making him hark back to an untold story of his own past: of his time in the Siberian gulag, and the terrible thing he did in order to survive.
When a new family arrive in the woodland, to develop the ruin and turn it into a home once more, the boy and his Grandfather find themselves living wild in the forests. As winter sets in, the wilderness sinks its teeth into Grandfather – and, as the old man grows wilder, benevolent stepfather turned storybook ogre, the boy finds real friendship with the girl of the house.
As fairy tale and history collide, the boy is caught between the two: between the wilderness and civilisation; between his papa’s love and the secrets of his papa’s past; and, finally, between the wildness in the heart of man and a chance to return to the warm heart of a family once again.
UK – Harper Collins
Russia – Bertelsmann
Audio – WF Howes