Book Review: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Title: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
Author: T. Kingfisher
Publisher: Argyll Productions
Publication date: July 21, 2020
Length: 308 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Library

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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…

What fun!

I’d had my eye on this book for a while now, and finally decided to dive in. This sweet fantasy story delivers an unlikely teen heroine, suspenseful action sequences, unusual magical powers, and some very bad cookies.

Mona works in her aunt’s bakery and is perfectly content with her life, using her magical powers (which she considers pretty minor) to encourage her bread to rise and her pastries to turn out perfectly. Occasionally, she entertains bakery customers by making her gingerbread men perform, but that’s about all she can do. Or so she thinks…

When a dastardly plot to eliminate wizards and usurp the ruling duchess’s throne comes to light, it’s up to Mona and a street urchin named Spindle to save the day. And since Mona’s magic is “just” related to bread, she has to figure out how on earth that ability could possibly be useful. The bad cookies are only the start.

I’ve yet to be disappointed by a T. Kingfisher book, and while A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking is vastly different from the author’s horror books (which I also love), her signature humor and clever dialogue are fully present here.

The plot is so entertaining, and Mona is a terrific lead character. I loved how her minor talent for working with dough ends up being just what a besieged city needs. Not giving anything away here… but it’s amazing!

This book is a total treat, and I loved every bit of it. And now, I’m dying to pick up more of the author’s fantasy stories (probably Minor Mage next). If you’re looking for a fun fantasy adventure (with plenty of baked goods), check out A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Magic!


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