Book Reviews

Book Review: Black Cake

By Charmaine Wilkerson

Published February 2022

400 pages

This is the most recent “must-read” I pulled from Goodreads.  I actually finished this in early March, but since ARCs have a deadline to post, it took me a minute to get this review on the blog.  (As a reminder, if you want to see my non-ARC reviews as soon as I post them, as well as everything I read since I can’t fit it all on my blog, follow me on Goodreads.  I’m easy to find – same avatar under Ann Dudzinski.)

Enough about me and my posting habits. Let’s get to to the important bits.

This book is essentially about family, history, and the secrets people hide.  Or course, these secrets have a way of coming out.  The storyline loops between Byron and Benny, siblings who are struggling to come to terms with their mother’s death and her past, since Eleanor, their mother, reveals her closely-guarded secrets only after her passing. 

Eleanor was raised on an unnamed Caribbean island and tells her children the story of her struggles there, her escape to London and changes in identity, re-inventing herself more than once.  She also drops the bombshell that Byron and Benny have another sister that not even their father knew about.  While trying to uncover the mystery of their sister, Byron and Benny must also heal more recent wounds that have kept them apart for nearly a decade.

“Black Cake” interpreted by Wombo Dream

I really enjoyed the story in this debut novel.  Loss, love, second chances, and learning about a different culture checked all my boxes.  But this book didn’t score an emotional hit for me.  I always feel like a hypocrite saying this, since I love using multiple POVs, but there were too many of them.  I want to say there’s ten or eleven separate POVs, if you count Eleanor and Covey as two.  While the story was well covered from every possible angle, this many POVs only works if the focus is on the story and not the characters.  To me, this IS a character-driven story and by jumping from character to character so often, I never emotionally connected with any of them.  I would have preferred having fewer POVs and leaving a little bit up to my imagination rather than knowing every detail from every character and not being able to attach to any of them.  Honestly, Lin, Elly, Charles Mitch, Mathilda, and possibly even Bunny could have been cut and I don’t think the novel would have suffered for it.  

This novel was definitely worth the read.  I’m just not sure how long I’ll remember it.

My final rating came in at three stars. ⭐⭐⭐

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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