The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher is a delightful and enchanting novel that blends the genres of fantasy and mystery to create a unique and engaging story. The novel centers around the life of fourteen-year-old baker Mona, who has an insignificant magic ability to influence dough, and a sourdough starter familiar named Bob.
The novel takes place in the charming and whimsical world of Riverbraid. Some folks, but not many, are magical. The magical talent a wizard has is often very narrow in scope and is often very minor. What makes Riverbraid different from the neighboring city-states is that it leaves magic folk alone and blends them into normal society.
This changes very quickly when Mona arrives at the bakery one morning and finds a dead body. What’s more alarming is she’s arrested for the crime and dragged in front of the duchess for trial. From there the story keeps building and twisting until Mona has no choice but to fight back.
Turns out, she’s the last wizard left as a hostile army gathers outside the city walls. But what can she and her little talent with dough do against an army of men who enjoy killing and destroying? This is the jewel of the novel – being creative enough to turn the insignificant into something formidable and mighty.
This was a fun read. The characters are well-developed and endearing, with Mona serving as a relatable and lovable protagonist. The supporting cast, including an animated gingerbread cookie, a woman who can bring dead horses back to life, and a young thief, add charm and depth.
The plot is fast-paced, and at its heart, The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking is a story about resilience and courage in the face of adversity. Mona faces numerous obstacles and dangers as she tries to protect her town. She overcomes them all with some sage advice from more experienced wizards and a lot of encouragement. Besides, there’s no one else.
Here’s the blurb:
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…