Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking, by T. Kingfisher

Red Wombat Studio, July 2020

Mona is fourteen years old, an orphan, and learning the art of baking from her aunt. She'll inherit the bakery, someday.

Oh, and she's a wizard.

Not a great, powerful wizard, like the ones who defend the city. She can't throw lightning bolts, or talk to water. She can, however, get dough to do amazing things. Sometimes she makes the gingerbread men dance to entertain the customers--although some customers get more nervous than amused. Her familiar is her sourdough starter, Bob. Bob can be a little scary, for people who aren't Mona, but he stays in his bucket in the basement, and it's mostly Mona who deals with him. It's a peaceful, productive, enjoyable life.

Then one morning, she comes in to start the baking for the day, and finds a dead girl in the kitchen. She wakes her aunt and uncle, her uncle fetches the constables.

Soon Mona is arrested as the prime suspect in the death, by Inquisitor Oberon--who, it turns out, has his own agenda, that doesn't include wizards not under his control continuing to go about their lawful, productive lives.

It's not long before Mona is on the run, assisted by the dead girl's younger brother, Spindle, and Knackering Molly, a wizard whose ability to animate dead horses has obvious useful applications in a city that has lots of horses, and thus lots of horses that eventually have to be moved to the knackering yards.

In the course of trying to stay alive, Mona discovers a vile plot against the city's lawful government, which is to say the Duchess, and any members of the Council who might oppose the plot.

Mona is perfectly correct that she, or any fourteen-year-old, shouldn't have to face the challenges she does, but she just keeps going, because she has to. She also does amazing things with dough, while trying to defeat the plot.

It's a lot of fun, if a bit darker than typical for the younger readers it was originally intended for.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book.

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