Sometimes you want to sit down and savour a literary meal, to indulge yourself in a four-course door-stopper of a novel that leaves you feeling comfortably bloated at satiated at the end. Then again, sometimes you just want to grab a narrative snack, to guiltily devour the sugary goodness of a candy-coated novella, preferably one that leaves you feeling just a little bit sick as you force down that last bite.
The Cannibals of Candyland is that perfect candy-coated treat.
Here we have an entire race of cannibalistic beings who have evolved from candy, in a land made of candy, surrounded by homes made of candy. It's a world where taste and smell trump physical appearance every time, where mates are taken for life, and where your original candy coating provides proof of virginity. There's no flesh in Candyland, just an infinite number of variations upon candy cotton hair, gumdrop eyes, marshmallow breasts, licorice limbs, and rock-candy teeth. Actually, there is a tiny bit of flesh in Candyland - all of it belonging to children stolen from the human world. After all, even people made of candy know that you can't live on candy alone.
Before we get to Candyland, though, we need to backtrack a bit. The story opens with a rather peculiar gentleman by the name of Franklin Pierce. He's a man with two wives (one of whom is his mother), both of whom revel in the opportunity to publicly cuckold him. He's a man with a flawed cybernetic brain, guaranteed to breakdown and drive him insane within the next few years. He's also a man who devoted his entire life to proving the existence of the candy people, ever since he watched them eat his siblings years ago.
I won't spoil the story by going into too much detail, but this is very much an Alice in Wonderland type story, except that Franklin goes through the candy dish instead of the looking glass. There is falls victim to a kind of Stockholm syndrome that sees him partially eaten, reconstructed with candy, and forcefully mated by the very same candy woman who ate his siblings. It's a rather twisted tale of the extent to which one man will go to ensure his revenge, but also a surprisingly sweet tale of the love to be found in the oddest flavours.
A quick read, filled with just enough sugary gore to delight even the most perverse of readers, it's a book that more than delivers on the promise of its concept.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins