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  • Published: 5 December 2023
  • ISBN: 9781787630666
  • Imprint: Bantam
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $32.99

The Kingdom of Sweets

Bestselling author of The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen journeys to a new kingdom in this brilliant standalone novel - a darkly magical take on the celebrated Christmas story of the Nutcracker...

'Captures the whimsical nature of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, whilst at the same time exploring a more sinister thread . . . dark in spirit and gothic in its atmosphere, this is The Nutcracker as you’ve never known it.' CULTUREFLY

Light and dark - this is the destiny placed upon Natasha and Clara, the birthright bestowed on them by their godfather, the mysterious sorcerer Drosselmeyer. Clara, the favourite, grows into beauty and ease, while Natasha is cursed to live in her sister's shadow. But one fateful Christmas Eve, Natasha gets her chance at revenge. For Drosselmeyer has returned and brought with him the Nutcracker, an enchanted present which offers entry to a deceptively beautiful world: the Kingdom of Sweets.

In this land of snow and sugar, Natasha is presented with a power far greater than Drosselmeyer: the Sugar Plum Fairy, who is also a giver of gifts . . . and a maker of dread-filled bargains. As Natasha uncovers the dark destiny laid before her birth, she must reckon with powers both earthly and magical . . . and decide to which world she truly belongs.

  • Published: 5 December 2023
  • ISBN: 9781787630666
  • Imprint: Bantam
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Erika Johansen

ERIKA JOHANSEN grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania before attending the celebrated Iowa Writers Workshop, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. She eventually became an attorney but she never stopped writing. Her debut was the international bestseller, The Queen of the Tearling - the first novel in a remarkable trilogy. This was followed by the acclaimed The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling. Erika now lives in England.

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Praise for The Kingdom of Sweets

Fantasy, history, and horror make an incredible confection in The Kingdom of Sweets, a terrifying and sugary take on The Nutcracker that you'll devour as quickly as you can.

HANNAH WHITTEN, author of For the Wolf

The Kingdom of Sweets drags you headfirst into its world of horror and whimsy, where the lines between reality, dream, and nightmare are far thinner and more porous than you think. Dark, twisty, and delicious, Johansen will keep you guessing until the curtain falls.

VAISHNAVI PATEL, author of Kaikeyi

In this gripping reimagining of the holiday classic, Erika Johansen shatters the sugar plum surface of the original Nutcracker to plunge deep into the shadows beneath . . . entwines love and hate, jealousy and pity, vengeance and forgiveness so tightly, it's impossible to decide which twin to root for . . . gives readers the gift of a compelling and richly imagined story that will keep them turning pages until the last, fully realized twist.

LIZ MICHALSKI, author of Darling Girl

The Kingdom of Sweets is a deliciously dark fairy tale that transports one to a world of magic, fantasy and family intrigue. Erika Johansen has written one of the most wonderfully original novels I've ever read, a story so imaginative, so filled with dangerous beauty, that you will never forget it.

DANIELLE TRUSSONI, author of Angelology

The famous Christmas ballet takes a sinister turn in Johansen’s spooky retelling . . . It would be a simple thing to take the outlines of The Nutcracker ballet and make it grim, but Johansen is doing a lot of delicate character work here, primarily around envy, social limitations on women’s choices, and accountability. The world beyond the candy fantasy is satisfyingly creepy but also an effective landscape for exploring what happens when you ignore the rotten core of your deepest desires. An eerie and sophisticated dark fantasy.

KIRKUS REVIEWS starred review

An irresistible alternative history, Johansen's THE KINGDOM OF SWEETS invites readers to indulge in the darkness that simmers below the glittering surface of a universally beloved fairy tale - The Nutcracker. Delectably perverse and lushly written, Johansen's reimagining will be devoured by fans of Tim Burton and readers of Katherine Arden. The perfect gothic treat for a cold winter's day.

KATY HAYS, author of The Cloisters

The Queen of the Tearling series was so impactful for me as a fantasy fan that I’ll gladly read anything Erika Johansen chooses to write afterward. That The Kingdom of Sweets is a dark Nutcracker retelling is just the icing on the cake.

PASTE magazine

If you watch The Nutcracker every year and say to yourself, 'This would make a seriously creepy novel,' you're not alone. And now we've got one. Twin sisters Clara and Natasha are cursed to be divided, one the privileged favoUrite and one cast aside and ignored. That is, until their powerful godfather brings them a magical nutcracker that grants the girls entry into the Kingdom of Sweets. That's where the journey toward their destiny really begins.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, "The 20 Best Books of Fall 2023"

Johansen transforms a beloved holiday classic into a dark tale of vengeance . . . Fans of artistically influenced, realistic historical fiction wrapped in moral allegory will relish Natasha's Nutcracker-adjacent narrative.

BOOKLIST (starred review)

In this stand-alone novel, Johansen writes a beautifully twisted version of The Nutcracker, exploring the nature of revenge and its costs in horror-tinged fantasy. Recommend to fans of V.E. Schwab and Hannah Whitten.


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