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  • Nikky Lee

Book Review: A Wizard's Guide To Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Title: A Wizard's Guide To Defensive Baking

Author: T. Kingfisher

Publisher: Self-published

Page Count: 308

Spice: none

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“It is nearly impossibly to be sad when eating a blueberry muffin. I'm pretty sure that's a scientific fact.”

― T. Kingfisher, A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

This is one of those novels that can span generations, from upper middle-grade readers through to adult readers such as myself, there is a lot to love about this story. And if the title doesn't sell it, I'm going to add one more thing: Bread wizard.

Mona is a fourteen year old baking apprentice at her Aunt’s Bakery. Thing is, Mona has more than a mere talent for bread-making; she has a magical affinity for it. From making gingerbread men dance to accidentally creating a semi-sentient sourdough starter with a taste for meat, she can make baked goods do things no one else can. Happiest when kneading dough, she has no greater ambition than to become the best baker she can be. Unfortunately, Mona’s plans for an ordinary life are turned upside down when she finds a dead body in her Aunt’s Bakery.

This story starts off as almost like a mystery as Mona and her street thief friend Spindle seek to uncover who dumped the body in the bakery. The further they get, the greater the threat they uncover, which leads them all the way to the Duchess’s castle where they uncover traitors, treason and plot akin to a more epic style of fantasy.

The voice in this book is fabulous—I could really believe the narrator is a slightly pampered, somewhat naive 14-year-old girl. Her fears and ambitions match her age, and her struggle to navigate the adult world she’s suddenly thrust into is both comical and endearing.

Most of all I simply love the idea. A bread wizard. Honestly, it is such a uniquely fresh take on the classic wizard trope that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it straight away. But that’s not to say there aren’t some darker aspects to this story; it starts with a dead body after all. Discrimination and persecution are very much present as the story progresses, along with murder and themes of failed leadership and heroes who should never have had to be heroes.

A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking is a brilliant coming-of-age story that balances good humour with more serious topics and undertones. The voice drew me in from the first page and T. Kingfisher’s magic kept me there.


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