“It was like this. You made me from flour, ground by a first born’s hands, mixed with spices and the same first born’s tears. You added honey and molasses with a few flakes of salt so I wouldn’t be too sweet. You lit me with candle light.”
She looks at her hands.
“I’m your baby. Your Lebkuchen.”
Lebkuchen. Bread of life.
I found the recipe for this story in a cookery book called “Snow Flakes and Schnapps” by Jane Lawson. It’s a beautiful thing full of great recipes interspersed with photos of ice skates hanging in windows, sleds in the snow and moody Nordic skies. The words bread of life were written by the recipe for Lebkuchen.
This story appeared online in January 2011 in Fantasy magazine and can the whole thing can be read here. The related interview is here.
The villagers believe that Lebkuchen has cast a spell to keep winter from departing, and they may be right. Her mother was a witch, and Lebkuchen won’t let her rest in her grave, despite the distress it gives her father to see the dead woman always there when he comes home. There is a definite sense of ambiguity in this fantasy. We are not sure at first how much Lebkuchen’s imagination is capable of transforming the world. She seems likely, either literally or figuratively, to fall into the grasp of the Erlking, to convert her father into a troll. In the end, however, we see that she is caught in a struggle between the powers of grief and love. Reccomended. Lois Tilton for Locus Online
The question running through the story is just how real is the world that she’s [Lebkuchen] living in… The voice of the narrator is consistent and seductive. It’s not long before, regardless of the truth of the matter, you want to believe in the world she lives in. It’s a world where home is safe and warm, where the outside world needs to be kept at bay by charms and amulets. Dylan Fox for The Portal