Book Reviews,  Coming of Age,  Humor,  Magical Realm,  Young Adult

Book Review: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive BakingA Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fourteen-year-old Mona lost her parents to the ‘Cold Fever’ but seems to have landed on her feet, working in her Aunt Tabitha’s bakery. Mona loves baking bread, muffins, cookies—all those sweet treats everyone enjoys. And she’s very good at it. Beyond good, actually. She’s got a way with dough that goes way beyond the average baker’s skills.

In Mona’s world, wizards exist, each with a distinct specialty. Mona’s specialty is, well, bread. Actually, she always just says ‘bread’, but wait till you see what she can do with gingerbread men.

Mona would have been content to live out her life in the bakery, creating food that makes people smile. But early one morning, she’s thrown into a situation she never asked for, doesn’t want and isn’t sure she’s capable of handling. As that bad situation continues to escalate, she’s forced to take on more and more responsibility. And to her frustration, the adults expect a lot from her, even though she keeps reminding them that she can only make magic with her doughs and baked goods. How could they possibly expect her to save the city with those meagre skills?

The story is told in first person, from Mona’s point of view. She’s only fourteen, remember, and with her age comes a lot of insecurity, confusion, and frustration. But there’s more to that inside of her, which she’ll discover as the story plays out.

If you are fourteen-ish years old, you’ll understand Mona and sympathize with her predicament. If you were once fourteen at some point in your life, you’ll remember the feelings, emotions, and on a lighter note, the humor that comes with being that age. This is a rollicking adventure that keeps amping up towards an all-out battle. How can a teenage breadmaker possibly matter in the face of war? That would be telling – and it’s the unfolding of surprise after surprise in this story that keeps it fun.

The writing is crisp and often witty, which makes for a fairly quick read. I found it hard to put down. And now I have a huge craving for gingerbread!

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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