Story statement: Brunhilde has to wrestle the man and the country she loves from the clutches of an ecstatically revered tyrant.
Sieglinda grows up in an orphanage run by the Bavarian Soviet Republic - until she discovers that she is the daughter of Bavarian royalty, murdered by revolutionaries. Gifted with innate charisma and ethereal beauty, she manipulates guards to escape from the orphanage and rallies underground aristocrats into a counter-revolution with the goal of establishing a new ‘monarchy of the people’ , with her and her mad cousin Ludwig as co-rulers who keep each other in check. Through her inspired policies she quickly manages to ‘make Bavaria great again’ - by manipulating plebiscites she overhauls the Bavarian economy, gender roles, beauty ideals - and even finds a solution to deal with those pesky foreigners that take aways Bavarian jobs - building a wall around the state and enslaving those foreigners already in Bavaria.
But, political giftedness and a savior syndrome can come with a dark side. Sieglinda grew up getting tortured by orphanage guards and this has left her with a dark desire to oppress men and torture them in her castle. This is how she locks into the fight with protagonist Brunhilde, who has no chance at happiness if she cannot free Ed Sherbert from Sieglinda’s mean, manicured hands.
Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter
Plot: A middle-aged woman who struggles to find love in the face of cruel beauty standards has to master her new found magical powers if she wants to save the man she loves and their world from an evil overlord.
Protagonist: A self-deprecating character overcomes oppression and discovers her worth when she sees herself with the eyes of a new world/ a new, more worthy, love interest
Tone/Setting: A quirky, humorous tone and a beautiful, magical world where the oppressed protagonist finally finds a home
‘Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Theme: The triumph of confidence over debilitating beauty standards
‘Carnival Row’ amazon TV show
Theme: An alternate world shows us to what degree ‘invisible’ social standards affect who we can love
A desperate woman
Trouble brewing in Bavaria
If thoughts could kill
A down-trodden woman escapes suspicions of murdering her abusive father, by cocktailing herself into a parallel world where she has to fight a psychopathic killer for the life of the only man who has ever shown an interest in her.
Our protagonist, Brunhilde is suffering in silence - never knowing how much of the mistreatment and lack of opportunity she experiences is due to her gender, her race or the vicious rumors her own father has spread about her. Growing up in a small Bavarian village, always kept within the reins of her father who despises her because she reminds him of his indiscretion as a missionary in Africa, she never gets the chance to start her own life. Her one attempt at rebellion, age 7, to get help when her mother disappears, is ignored by the police chief - her father’s drinking buddy. Decades later when she has been rejected by a man she had hoped could love her, and is unfairly persecuted for her father’s murder, her misery combined with her late mother’s mysterious drink recipe, lead to an explosion that transports her into a different world. When Brunhilde realizes that the man who rejected her in Bad Kissingen, Ed Sherbert, also exists in Gut Kissingen, she begins to believe she was sent to this parallel world for a second shot at love. But right before she can use the fact that this new world seems to have much more favorable beauty standards to score a date with her dream man, he gets abducted. As an isolated, middle aged woman who derives most of her knowledge of social situations from romance novels and cop shows, now thrown into a situation where she is the only one who can save Ed Sherbert, she needs to use all her strength to overcome her shyness, make social connections, trust people who were her bullies in her previous life and exert her new found magical powers over people who don’t want to tell her what they know about the abduction. All for the faint chance of saving a man who we suspect might be a weak and superficial windbag. Her overall challenge is not knowing her own worth, not believing in her own power to save those she loves, as well as the false belief that all she can hope for is to be loved by a flawed man like Ed Sherbert.
To wrangle the man she loves from the hands of the killer before it’s too late, Brunhilde is forced to work together with the handsome but haughty police officer Ingwer-Brad Block, the man who mercilessly persecuted her for her father’s murder back in Bad Kissingen. But Ingwer-Brad is not much more approachable in this new world of Gut Kissingen - in fact, he is even more arrogant, skeptical, and incorruptible and doesn’t see any reason to let Brunhilde, a civilian, be part of the investigation into the missing men.
Desperate, Brunhilde blackmails Ingwer-Brad with knowledge about his past, into letting her be part of the investigation. The ensuing investigation is flawed by the angry sparks flying between these two who couldn’t be more opposite.
Brunhilde is a simple working class woman with explosive emotions, little social graces and shaky confidence. Her only certainty is the iron-clad conviction that Ed Sherbert needs to be saved - even by unconventional means. And because she realizes she can get results quicker if she slips people cookies made based on her mother’s voodoo recipes, which may or may not contain drugs, her desperate acts to find who is holding Ed Sherbert are not just unconventional but likely also illegal.
Officer Ingwer-Brad Block is first and foremost an upholder of the law. He is an educated and supremely confident son of a policeman and an army commander, an objective observer and man of action and honor, who believes emotions are not to be felt, and definitely not shown. He does not believe in voodoo magic and forbids Brunhilde to bring any of her hocus pocus near the investigation. Of course, her science is not an accurate one, so he learns again and again that she has attempted but failed to enchant him or their witnesses, provoking his rage.
Eventually, both will realize that the other has something they desperately need to complete them - unfortunately this realization only hits Brunhilde when Ingwer, too, has also fallen into the hands of the killer.
The story begins in a fictional version of present day Bad Kissingen, the seemingly perfect small Bavarian town. But its picturesque gingerbread facades hide some ugly prejudices. For 39 years Brunhilde has felt captive by the frosty atmosphere of the mountains enclosing her in her town and her small wooden cabin she shares with her father.
When she hears the police are looking to arrest her for her father’s murder, she ventures out to a darkly lit backalley in the bad parts of Bad Kissingen to score drugs for one last hurrah before facing the rest of her life in prison. On her last night of freedom, heavy snow begins to envelop her cabin on the foot of Mount Zuckerhut. After some drunk baking, an explosion happens.
She wakes up in Gut Kissingen - it’s her hometown, but different. In this parallel world, Bavaria is run by an aristocracy of the people (monarchs rely on plebiscites to inform governing decisions), women seem to be in charge of everything. Commercials, magazines and billboards feature not the skinny, perfect, white models that have made Brunhilde feel inadequate all her life, but round, chocolate colored women like her. Where Bad Kissingen was stale, stuck and dusty with the only jobs in the outdated car industry, Gut Kissingen seems to be a hotspot of commercial activity where the streets are buzzing with ideas of start-ups and innovation. The mountains that once made her feel locked in now feel like they can hardly contain this hotbed of activity. But soon Brunhilde realizes that there is a downside to this magical new world. Men and ‘Foreigners’ ( easily recognizable by who isn’t wearing the traditional dirndl and lederhosen embroidered with the symbol of two golden lions shaking hands) are discriminated against, and rumors are going round that princess Sieglinda is even intending to build a wall around the state of Bavaria in order to keep out those not born in the state, and enslave the ones who already live there.