The Gingerbread Men by Joanna Corrance
Publisher : Haunt Publishing
Language : English
Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 191623478X
A Book Review by Jim Mcleod
While attending Cymera this year, I took a walk through the creator’s hall, and Haunt Publishing had a table there. Now Haunt Publishing is one of those publishers who always prick my ears up. They are a publisher of always exciting books that reward the reader greatly, and I have always had a great time reading their books. However, for some unknown reason, The Gingerbread Men by Joanna Corrance had managed to slip past me when it was first published. And with a title like that, how could The Gingefather himself pass it up? This might be the first time in history that a Ginger Nut has reviewed a Gingerbread novel. The big question is, has Joanna Corrance baked a sumptuous Gothic Horror novel, or are The Gingerbread Men a stale, half-baked snack?
Eric abruptly abandons his fiancee on the very day he proposes to her while taking a trip to the Edinburgh Christmas Market. And follows the mysterious and enigmatic Delia to her hotel in the Highlands, where winter never seems to end, but this is no Winter Wonderland. Populated by a staff entirely composed of men, who all seem to have something to hide, Eric falls under her spell and falls in love with her, but can Eric ever find a way out of the hotel and back to civilisation?
The Gingerbread Men was a revelation; I knew right from reading the opening sentence that this book would be something special. Corrance, with a straightforward yet highly effective first line, Corrance, embedded her literary hooks firmly embedded in my brain.
Atmosphere is essential for a novel of this sort that treads the lines between Gothic literature and horror. Corrance has layered The Gingerbread Men with atmosphere galore; right from the opening page there is a disturbing sense of dread and unease. Corrance keeps the reader on edge, and while there is nothing overtly horrific within the narrative, how she cleverly keeps the reader slightly on the wrong foot, unsure of where they should tread about what is coming, is a sign of a highly talented author. The sense of unease is especially true when it comes to Delia, the siren-like owner of the hotel.
There is no doubt in the reader’s mind that she is not quite right from the moment we are introduced to her; however, the manner in which Corrance portrays her within the pages of The Gingerbread Men is a joy to read. Creepy does not even begin to describe her. Seductive one moment, cold-hearted the next, then out of nowhere, full-on psychotic monster, she is genuinely one of the most exciting protagonists I have had the pleasure of following in recent years.
I’m reluctant to call this a feminist novel, as I know even mentioning that word will put so many males off reading The Gingerbread Men. Still, please don’t let that put you off reading this extraordinarily creepy and compelling novel.
The men that populate the hotel all seem to be hiding secrets; why did they end up working at the hotel? Why does Delia snare these weak and damaged men, who are all running away from something, is something that you must find out for yourselves.
Corrance cleverly uses the old campfire stories trope throughout the novel; they add an extra level of depth to the novel, mainly due to how the stories are used to reveal critical moments of the narrative shrewdly. This part of the novel’s structure reminds me of a Ghost Story by Peter Straub, a similar great atmospheric and terrifying novel.
In most novels, underdeveloped characters would be an annoyance; however, in The Gingerbread MenThe Gingerbread Men, Corrance uses this to significant effect; apart from Eric and Delia, all of the staff of the hotel are mere cyphers, almost ghost-like in their deliver, however, this feels like a deliberate move rather than any fault in writing. This is not their story, and as you unravel the mystery of what is happening, you will begin to feel the same way. They are the literal ghosts of who they once were before they became trapped in the spider web.
And like the staff of the hotel, The Gingerbread Men will trap you like a fly in the beautifully intricate narrative web of Corrance’s impressive novel.
The Gingerbread Men is a wholly satisfying novel, delicious and sumptuous, filled with just the right amount of spice. It gives it a deep, rich sense of dread that will have you desperately waiting for Corrance to bake the next batch of her literary goods.
The Gingerbread Men by Joanna Corrance
Eric abandons his fiancé, Eleanor, at the Edinburgh Christmas market, following a mysterious woman back to the hotel she owns in the Highlands. Here he meets the men that staff the vacant rooms. Men like him. Men with something to hide…
By day, the men carry out their domestic chores in the hotel, cut off from the rest of the world by the snow. At night, they tell horror stories beside the fire, hoping to entertain the woman they serve. They do not ask why there are no guests, why it always snows, why they can’t go home. Seeds of doubt begin to plague Eric and, as he delves deeper into the lives of the men at the hotel, secrets are uncovered.
The Gingerbread Men mixes Shining-esque mystery with dark fairy-tales, serving up a perfect Highland hotel horror. Joanna Corrance’s nightmarish novel explores the quiet corridors of desire that pull us, and the places occupied by men and women in the tales we’re all familiar with.