A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
by T. Kingfisher
When Mona, a fourteen-year-old wizard whose magic only works on bread, finds a dead body in the bakery, she becomes an assassin’s target and her city’s only hope.
Having recently read Minor Mage, I found these two stories to have a similar base. A young, magical protagonist with an unusual familiar left with no choice but to be the hero. A Wizard’s Guide takes another look at the idea of a child saving everyone instead of the grown ups, as well as a larger discussion on what makes someone a hero, which was a part that I loved reading. Beyond the basic setup however I think these stories are unique enough to leave the comparisons there.
Mona is such a lovely main character with a peculiar ability who wants to be a normal teenager. Unfortunately, the enemy has other plans and she has to decide to either run away or fight back in whatever ways she can come up with. Through unlikely allies, uncovering a system that is failing, and a lot of creativity, Mona discovers more of what she is capable of through magic. She gives a thoughtful contrast to the stereotype of the hero who brazenly saves the people.
In addition to Mona, I loved all the side characters. The people who have fallen through the cracks in the city’s systems, the people in charge who are even more lost and helpless than anyone, and Mona’s heartwarming aunt and uncle. Together they all work to save the city in unusual ways. The plot gives us a classic fantasy problem with a unique solution that kept me interested in seeing what would happen next.
Definitely recommend this for a unique fantasy filled with baked-goods.