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Gingerbread

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  540 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Fairy tale and history, wilderness and civilisation collide in this brilliant and magical new novel from the author of Little Exiles.

In the depths of winter in the land of Belarus, where ancient forests straddle modern country borders, an orphaned boy and his grandfather go to scatter his mother’s ashes in the woodlands. Her last request to rest where she grew up will be f
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Hardcover, 421 pages
Published February 13th 2014 by Harper Collins
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Michelle Knott
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  540 ratings  ·  95 reviews


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Aditi
Nancy Wynne Newhall was an American photography critic, who once quoted remarkably about the wilderness in nature:
“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.”

Robert Dinsdale, an English author, has spun a spectacularly wild tale about a boy, some unforgettable forest fables and forest in the unexplored land of Belarus, in his new novel, Gingerbread.

I'd like to thank the author immensely, for sending me over the copy of his new novel, in return for an honest
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Juliet
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm still digesting this dark, compelling, wonderful novel and will review fully in due course.
Simon
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think this is more a 2.5 for me than a two and I feel a little mean saying that because some of Ginger Bread is very good (and very me). I loved the idea of fairytale and folklore intertwining with a history of sorts, though the whole history of Belarus was oddly in parts absent bar the fairytale retellings of its history - will make sense if you’ve read it, sorry. I also loved the idea of trees and a tiny bit of sorcery being part of a boys granddads hidden side. I also loved the first 100 pa ...more
Lucy Jackson
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book will stay with me for a long time, it's a tragic tale about a grandfather and a boy after the boy's mama dies and how resilience and a promise keep them together for good and ill.
Its a very emotional novel and very well written, I am looking forward to reading more of Robert Dinsdale's books.
Rebecca
Read this review and more on my blog

In a nutshell: A dark and atmospheric story that combines history with fairy tales and is unlike anything I've ever read.

With some books, you read the description and you kind of know what you're going to get. That's not a bad thing - I love what's familiar and when I pick up most books, I'm in the mood for that thing and I'm mostly satisfied by what I get. With some books, it's a bit more complicated and there's more to it than meets the eye. This is when ge
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Stephen
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
interesting novel but the book didn't really grab me though
Jo Bennie
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: d
A boy is brought to the house of his grandfather, a bleak tenament flat in a Belarussian town. His mother is dying of cancer and has brought her son to live with her father. Slowly, reluctantly, Grandfather, or Papa, begins to tell the boy and mother the stories he told to her as a child. Of Baba Yaga, the deep forests, and of the mighty Winter King and the King in the West who fought a terrible war over Belarus when it was Poland.

The mother's dying wish is for her ashes to be scattered with th
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Kirsty
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book through Goodreads First Reads.

There is more to this novel than meets the eye. I would never have expected the story to develop and end in quite the way it did. Gingerbread begins by introducing us to a young boy, who through most of the book we only know him by "boy". His mother is dying of cancer and she takes him to go and live with his grandfather "Papa". After an emotional and gripping beginning, the author then takes you on a journey which as I have already said is unexpecte
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Becky
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The five star system doesn't seem to be adequate when it comes to books like this. Having read Little Exiles, I was expecting this to be good, but couldn't anticipate just how well written, and horrifying the novel would be. Robert Dinsdale has taken a story of loss and emotional trauma, and wrapped it up in the history and folktales of Belarus to create something quite exceptional. Alek is a young boy determined to honour the last requests made by his dying mother; to protect his 'Papa' and to ...more
Simone
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful novel with all the elements of eminent storytelling. This is for readers who like to be swept-off to faraway lands and tales of survival, humanity and betrayal. It takes the reader on the journey of a (mostly) unnamed boy through the grief of his dying mother to the love of his grandfather whose stories will reveal shocking secrets locked in time, in the dark, depths of the ancient forests. Dinsdale challenges readers, at a couple of points, to suspend reality entirely but his magica ...more
Jenny
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
'Gingerbread' is a wonderful tale mixing stark reality with fairytale and folklore. Dinsdale tells the story of an orphaned boy and his grandfather, who go to the forests in Belarus to scatter his mother's ashes. The boy has promised his mother that he will protect his grandfather, a task he takes very seriously; a task much bigger than he imagined. As the story unfolds, Grandfather's tales unearth a terrible history, which bring to life horrors the boy had imagined were only for stories.

As the
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DLS
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having never read any of Dinsdale's novels previously I was unsure what to expect, and found myself trudging through at a slow pace. Within 20 pages, this all changed and I was racing through to the end, sat on the edge of my seat for the last 50 (or so) pages.
The book follows the story of a boy, and the tragic events which lead up to him living in a forest for over a year. Within the narrative however you are introduced to fairytales told by the boy's Grandfather which oddly reflect the events
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Sophie Boddice
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this in a goodreads give away and I absolutely loved this book. Started out thinking it would be a lovely sad book about a kind grandfather and a boy, not at all what I expected it to be. One of those easy reads that you cant put down, Im definitely going to recommend it to friends and family!
Liz
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book took my breath away multiple times. It's so beautiful, yet horrifying and terribly sad. Set in Belarus, a boy ventures into the woods with his grandfather, who has wonderful folk tales to tell...which soon merge into something much more sinister. the way the story unfolds is so gripping, it was very hard to put down.
Louise Groom
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway and I really enjoyed it!

I haven't read a book like it and really enjoyed the storyline!
Beth (bibliobeth)
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first book of Robert Dinsdale’s that I’ve read and picked up this copy from a wonderful Oxfam charity shop near Tottenham Court Road in London where the synopsis immediately intrigued me and begged to be bought and devoured. I love fairy tales, fairy tale re-imaginings, alternative fairy tales… you name it. Just the mere mention of the word fairy tale will ensure it gets put in my basket and after reading lots of positive reviews of this novel on Good Reads, I was eager to get stuck ...more
Vorbis
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Does a creepy tone very well, but the mix of stories and reality make it hard to know what's actually happening. I mean, obviously it was intended that way, but I think unintentionally it also made it have less impact. You can't take things as seriously because you don't know where the boundaries are.

Spoilers abound but I'm not going to white them out or we'd lose the whole thing. Just skip if you intend to read it blind.


For instance, the grandad takes some pretty critical injuries during a fal
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Maya Panika
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A boy's dying mother takes him to live with his grandfather, his 'Papa'. When his mother dies, the boy insists the grandfather respect her wishes and take her ashes to her childhood home, deep in the Belarusian forest. There, the forest renews its claim the grandfather. He has resisted its call for decades, but he is old now, and can resist no longer.
The basic premise - The events of World War 2 and its aftermath, told as myth and fairytale by a grandfather to his grandson - was irresistible. G
...more
grdel
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lee Harrison
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading this, i was immediately caught in wonderful details that really place you in the body and mind of The Boy. Starting on a tragedy, the story wanders into fairytale territory, then ramps up in tension as it ventures into increasingly dark terrain.

The Grandfather was an awesome creation - at once reassuring and frightening, and the question mark over his 'real' nature - and the truth behind the fairytales he spins for the boy - kept me tense until the end of the book and beyond.

There's a
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Keval
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read, this one. I love how it is dark and cold -- you can almost feel the winter on your fingertips and the forest under your feet. The characters are believable and you root for them, their individual peculiarities: the boy for his innocence and being caught between keeping a promise and doing what's right; Elenya for her strength, and even Papa, who is consumed by the wild.

The ending came as no surprise, but that didn't stop me from being sucked into the narrative, in much the sa
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Michelle
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The images Dinsdale creates in this book are second to none. He uses language outstandingly creating an image in my mind's eye and then with, what appears no effort, managed to bring the image into high definition focus, as if the event, movement or emotion is happening in front of me. I am still mulling over the plot and its effect on me, but it was compelling. I loved how fairytale, history and the boy's stories were intertwined, in the telling and in the plot.
Sharon Benham
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book in a Goodreads competition.

It was not at all what I was expecting. Others here have covered what the story is about so I won't repeat it.

It is a cleverly written book. I was moved in the beginning and horrified by the end.

It really isn't my sort of book but I can appreciate how well written it is.

In parts it is really creepy and made me feel quite uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure I won't forget the story anytime soon.
Gill
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it


Now here's a book that surprises. In some ways heartwarming, in others horrifying, it gives an insight into a part of the world little known to many of us, but more into the long-term affect of war and abuse on the mind, the love and loyalty of children to their elders, and how legends are born. I found it disturbing, interesting and though-provoking, all-in-all a good books to read


Received free through GoodReads giveaways






Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
a powerful story about family truth and memory and how we come to terms with what we know, what we think we know, and what we want to remember... loved how the author intermingled all the different myths and fables and personages and creatures from these tales... the ending got a bit drawn out, which detracted a bit from the pacing, but i LOVED the ending pages... perfect.
Thoraiya
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
That book was one big, long, glorious shiver up my spine. Thank you Juliet Marillier for the rec!
Emma Battcock
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A gripping and moving folk/realistic story - loved it.
Kerri
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Magical. If you are looking for a grown up take on fairy tales this is the one for you. Dark, earthy full of imagery. Be persistent as it can ramble on but well worth sticking to.
Billyf27
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a great book that I couldn't put down. I felt the cold and snow in the woods of Belarus following the story of Alek and his grandfather. It will stay with me a long time.
Santhi
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
#LitWorld2018GB Belarus
#Booked2018 an atmospheric tale of the woods, the consuming dark forest and a wild boy
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I was born in Northallerton, North Yorkshire in 1981 and went on to study at the University of Leeds.

In 2010 I spent four months in Australia researching the novel that would become LITTLE EXILES, which was published by Harper Collins in February 2013.
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“When somebody says I need, it means that the thing they will tell you is a terror, and must not really be heard at all.” 0 likes
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