I really adored A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. This charming young adult fantasy novel was so much fun to read. A shout out to the YA librarian who mentioned how much she had loved this book.
Mona is a 14 year old baker who has some limited magic capabilities. She can do things like make gingerbread cookies dance. One day, she finds a dead girl in the bakery and it turns out all magickers in her town are being targeted and murdered. This starts her adventure to try and figure out what is going on in her town, because she may be next!
The book has a great cast of well drawn odd characters. Spindle is a street urchin, brother of the dead girl in the bakery, who befriends Mona. Aunt Tabitha is Mona’s guardian and the bakery owner and her husband Uncle Albert has his own back story. Knackering Molly is a magicker who is considered crazy and can make dead horses walk. There is the Duchess who rules the town, along with her guards and other palace workers. A temperamental sourdough starter named Bob lives in the bakery basement. My favorite is an unnamed gingerbread cookie whom Mona has brought to life (and becomes her constant companion). There are also a couple of bad guys, including the Spring Green Man. I mean how can you not love these great character names!
The plot is fun and clever. There is plenty of action and loads of magical baking. Kingfisher does a good job of world building and making it all feel very Victorian. This book is good for younger YA readers (nothing graphic or mature) as well as adults looking for a fun read.