A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking

Paperback, 320 pages

English language

Published July 21, 2020 by Argyll Productions.

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5 stars (7 reviews)

Fourteen year old Mona is a baker but she is also a not-very-powerful wizard - her medium of choice is dough. She can make pastries dance and bread light and fluffy - nothing extreme or dangerous. But when someone starts killing off all the wizards her minor wizard status doesn't matter and she has to run or be killed. But the people killing off the wizards have to be stopped and Mona doesn't let her lowly abilities stop her - a wizard's got to do what a wizard's got to do.

Such a clever, funny, amazing story.

5 editions

Fun adventure for young readers

No rating

This was a quick and fun story that I think would appeal to young readers. The plot was straightforward and clearly explained: a bit too clearly for my tastes, with heavy-handed social commentary, but then I’m certainly not young! I liked that Mona had a good relationship with her aunt and uncle. She did came across as younger than her stated 14, especially in the medieval-ish setting. She struck me more as an observer and pushed around by circumstances (and other people’s actions/decisions) than having her own agency, which added to the “young” feel. The gingerbread man was fun.

Fun and original take on the teenage wizard genre

5 stars

With an immortal carnivorous sourdough starter named Bob (who may or may not count as a familiar).

In case that's not enough to convince you:

Teenage assistant baker Mona's only magic talent is with bread. She can make it staler or fresher, keep it from burning, make gingerbread men dance, and occasionally something more dramatic like Bob. (Bob was an accident, but he's quite handy around the bakery.) She wasn't prepared to be suspect number one in a rash of wizard murders, live on the run, or to protect the city from a threat as its only remaining mage.

Fun characters, fun concepts, and a quest that runs through the city's worst slums to the palace. Mona has to navigate both from her comfortable shopkeeper's life, learning what happens when the system she relied on to protect her is turned against her. And how the system can be manipulated against …

This book will make you hungry

4 stars

A YA book with more murder than one might expect, and an awful lot of allegory. Wizards look just like normal people, but someone in power wants them all registered and blames them for the ills in society.

I think I would have found the plot too heavy-handed (not really been into YA since I was one) if not for the author's yet-again delightful whimsy. This is narrated by the protagonist, who is a baker, and so all metaphors and the like are baking related. Everything has the colour of honey, the consistency of dough, or the smell of almonds. The actual enchanted gingerbread men and sourdough starter are the icing on the cake.

No, I am not sorry.

Review of "A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking" on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Good: It's a refreshing take on YA Fantasy. I really liked the pacing, and the story structure. The whole idea of it doesn't matter what you can magic, what matters is how creative you can be is so cool as well. The characters were good, and added depth to the story. Aunt Tabitha is a great example of characters that aren't often seen in fiction.

Not so good: The "learning magic" bits were interesting, but the book takes a sharp inorganic turn towards it, which I didn't like. A lot of the conflict in the book also felt a bit forced.

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rated it

5 stars
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rated it

5 stars