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

As you may have noticed, book reviews have been few and far between this summer, as I have simply not been able to sit down and read with any regularity. I have started several books only to neglect them until the overdue reminder guilt becomes too much to bear and I give up and return them to the library halfway read. I have started listening to audio books during my daily walk, but so far only works I’ve read several times before.

Given my continuing lack of dedication I decided to try this strange little YA novel by an author I’ve not read before, and found it sufficiently brief and the characters interesting enough that I kept coming back to read another chapter. It is the first-person narrative of young Mona (who keeps pointing out that she is 14 years old), a wizard in a world where magic is both unusual (most people don’t have the talent) and limited, in that the few who do have powers can only affect a specific target, such as water, or dead horses, or (in Mona’s case) dough and baking.

The story takes place in a city which reminds me of the setting of several Miyazaki films, with the fantastic interlaced with the mundane, and the characters have distinct personalities, but I felt that the plot was a bit uneven and unconvincing, showing Mona as both terribly naive and tremendously competent in turn, rather than a logical progression from baker’s assistant to master wizard. There are a number of striking and sometimes dark scenes, but they don’t seem well connected.

But for a light summer read that doesn’t demand too much it was just about right.

Book cover for A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher, an angry gingerbread man cookie holding a sword against a purple background.