Title: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
Author: T. Kingfisher
Intended audience: MG/YA
Date Read: 04/12/2022 – 08/12/2022
This book was really cute. I love any fantasy novel where baking and magic are combined, so when this one made mention of it in the title, I was immediately sold.
Often when this concept is used, the baker/wizard in question bakes mostly sweets. Mona is a baker in the traditional sense of the word. She’s up at 4am to get the day’s bread on, and her familiar is a (possibly carnivorous) sourdough starter. I loved this twist! The way Mona’s power, which boils down to being able to persuade uncooked dough that it has certain properties, or wants to act a certain way, ended up being what saved their duchy, was impressive.
Having said that, Mona does not want to be a hero, and it’s a title that is foisted on her for doing simply what needed doing, when people far more qualified than her should have been doing it instead. This is a big theme in the book and I really enjoyed how it was explored.
And can I just say how nice it is to have a 14-year-old main character in a YA book?! So often, this age group is overlooked. And Mona definitely feels like a 14-year-old, too. Spindle, the young thief that she befriends, was also a fun character, and I really appreciated the way his handling of his sister’s death was written.
I will say that sometimes the world-building was a bit lacking. There was enough to carry the story, but it wasn’t enriched by it. And the editing was sometimes poor. There were words missng and Mona’s Uncle Albert turned into Uncle Earl for a whole chapter at one point!
Still, this was a cute and different fantasy story and I definitely recommend!