5 out of 5 Stars!
Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.
But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel. It’s written as if for middle grade or YA readers, but the plot is definitely a bit darker than I would typically expect. There’s plenty of murder and betrayal along with a sense of lost innocence that might be a bit intense for young readers. But then again, maybe not.
The story follows Mona, a young wizard who’s specialty is bakery. She can make cookies dance and keep bread from burning–a useful skill to have as a baker’s apprentice. But she never thought she’d need to use those skills to save her entire kingdom.
I love the creativity of this novel, showing how such a small and seemingly worthless skill could be used to achieve magnificent things with the right help and positive mindset. The types of magic are fresh and exciting. I particularly love the idea of a necromancer who’s skills only work on dead horses. The humor is sometimes crude, childish, and absolutely delightful.
One of the main things that impressed me about this novel is the way it portrayed how fantasy societies so often let young heroes down. Mona struggles with her disappointment with the adults around her for failing to keep her and other children safe. The loss of trust and resulting trauma might be difficult for some readers, but it was so heart aching and real, deep and well-written.
Overall I really enjoyed A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This was such a refreshing take on the traditional young hero’s story. A great novel for any fantasy fans 🙂