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Book review

A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking

by T. Kingfisher

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This book is a delight from beginning to end. Mona is a young baker who has magical skills, but they are strictly related to baking – she can revive stale bread, she can make dough rise better, she can even animate gingerbread people and make them dance. She’s happily working in her aunt Tabitha’s bakery, enjoying delighting people with her blueberry scones, when early one morning she comes to open the bakery and finds the body of a dead girl. And things begin to go downhill from there – an assassin is preying on the minor magical talents of the city, and Mona may well be on their list…

Mona – who is, after all, a fourteen year old girl – soon finds herself in an world run by adults, entirely confused as to why the adults haven’t just done the obvious things and sorted it out. Unfortunately, they haven’t, and things go from bad to worse. Mona – with a little help from her baking skills – does her best, but definitely feels overwhelmed by the responsibility thrust upon her.

Some great characters in here, deftly played out by T. Kingfisher, too, with perhaps my favourite being Bob, the animated sourdough starter (our starter is called Adam, so I’m quite happy to see a named character in this guise). And although this is a book entirely suitable for a YA audience, it’s also entirely suitable for grumpy old men like me. It’s a bit dark, but also whimsical and charming – and yes, I did seem to have something in my eye at the end (+1 for waterproof Kindle!).

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five for charm.