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As always, the characters are gently subversive, and quietly powerful, without being overbearing. The wizard is a young girl, with a gingerbread man and a bucket of sourdough starter as her familiars. She doesn't want to be a hero, and the whole book subverts the Hero's Journey. It also as the best take on wizardry I've seen, and the most inventive uses of odd talents. This is not necessarily a YA book, despite the youth of the main character, but it can be read that way. I would recommend it to teenagers and adults alike. I often recommend her other books, especially the Harriet the Hamster Princess series, to mothers with young children.
This was a really good read; I liked very much that actions always have consequences in this secondary world, and that the author confronts head-on the possibility that paradigms in which children have to save the world are actually problematic. The emphasis on adult responsibility, and that the corollary to child heroes is the failure of adults, is thought-provoking. But the whole novel remains well paced and not preachy, and the plot holds together. The protagonists are engaging, the baking magic is original and interesting, and parts of this I found genuinely moving, which I was not expecting at all. Certainly worth reading!
A new T. Kingfisher book is always a delight, and this is no exception. Mona is a wizard. But her only talent lies in dough - the bread kind - and her ability to make a carnivorous sourdough starter that once ate a rat. When she opens up the bakery one morning, and finds a corpse on the floor, Inquisitor Oberon promptly accuses her of murder. Things go from bad to worse. Someone is murdering wizards, even the small and insignificant kind. Mona finds herself on the endangered species list and then - even more scarily, finds she's the only wizard in town when a vicious invading army arrives. With a fourteen year old heroine this book hovers between upper-end middle grade, YA, or it can equally enjoyed by adults who like quality literature.
Have you ever wondered how dough feels? Me neither. But baker's magic is needed to defend a baker's home in a place where magic has suddenly become a crime punishable by death. How does it work? It's well worth reading Kingfisher's astonishing novel. It builds a world and rises to a brilliant crescendo. I shall certainly seek out more by this amazing award-winning author.
This one is a solid delight. I absolutely loved it. Mona is such a superb protagonist – having been orphaned and then looked after by her aunt and uncle, her life is jogging along quite nicely. But then the appearance of a dead body in the bakery upsets everything. And from then on, Mona’s life becomes a lot more complicated.
The setting is a medieval city state where most of the subjects are just about coping, though there is widespread poverty. I believed in the world, the politics and the way prejudice against folks with magical ability had been subtly stirred up – it was nicely done. But what makes this book really stand out is the magic. Or rather – Mona’s magic… It’s a joy. Both funny and completely believable, the way Mona’s desperate efforts to save the day made this a gripping read so that I stayed up far too late to discover what happened. And I’ve been mourning the loss of this world ever since I stopped reading it. I even dreamt about it…
I also liked the depth of the supporting characters – as well as Mona’s anger at the adults’ inability to sort things out, so that it’s down to her. Such a natural reaction, but one I don’t see all that often in these sorts of adventures. I very much hope that Kingfisher finds that her lovely heroine won’t leave her alone – and that she, too, misses Mona. Because I’d love to read more about this gutsy, quirky teen. 10/10
I loved the concept of how the magic talents in people manifest, it does not matter how small or insignificant a power might seem, what you do with it matters. It’s a short, fast-paced read with lovable characters and nice world building. Wouldn’t want to smell that city of Riverbraid though. Mona shows some realistic reactions to threats. The first time somebody tries to kill her, she pees her pants. Doesn’t sound nice, but it strikes me as a very valid reaction to a grown-up coming at you with a knife. When she’s stuck in a room and awaits her trial, her instant thought is “don’t think about needing the bathroom”, which is of course what happens. This doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things or the story, but it makes her sympathetic. Other characters get fleshed out less than Mona, but they never feel like cardboard cut-outs and I was happy whenever they appeared.
The book has plenty of funny moments, e . g. during her trial, the inquisitor notes how she “conveniently” found the corpse, to which Mona notes “The way he said “conveniently” made it sound like I’d been found standing over the body with a bloody baguette.” Must have been one hell of a baguette.
Another pass of editing or polishing would have been nice. There are a great deal of “very”s in there, some letters missing in places and uncle Albert turns into Earl in one instance. A few things get repeated throughout the book, which really aren’t necessary, if you trust your reader to pay any kind of attention. Even if it’s directed at ten or twelve year olds, there is no need for that. Inconsistency. Mona tells you she never committed a crime, twice. Except in the first instance it’s stealing wine from the church and being sick after trying it, in the next it’s stealing cookies.
Lovely story enjoyed by myself and daughter. No adult content but gripping enough to reach all readers, though probably aimed mostly at younger young adults. Like Lord of the Rings it's the little people who save the day, but this is not a high epic tale. It's a street level view of the consequences of government conspiracies in a small city state where magic exists . It's funny and has likeable characters to cheer on.
A better review writer would be able to think up some bread puns and witty comparisons, but alas, I'll have to stick with good ol honesty. I haven't read anything by this author before but you better believe I'll be looking to tick more off the list! With an innocently witty lead protagonist and the supporting cast she needed, the story moves at a good pace throughout. The magic and world building leave you wanting to learn more but give you all you need. It would be wonderful to see more from Mona, wizard of the bakery in the future. This is well worth a read for anyone who's needs a book to dive right into.
My daughter and I read this together and we absolutely loved it! The author deals with challenging issues, death, ethics, grownups being useless etc but in a really fun and engaging way! We were literally cheering for characters throughout the book and actually cried in places we’d were so moved! The heroine has such a fresh, honest voice throughout and we can’t recommend this book enough! We even got up extra early on school days so we could sneak in extra chapters! Her descriptions are really funny as they are often food based metaphors and we ended up baking cinnamon buns to get us through the final chapters!
This was such a great read, a wonderful little adventure. T. Kingfisher is one of my favourite author's, her stories are full of characters that are hard to leave behind and stay with you long after reading the last page. I am a mother of four daughters with a family business to run, time is My biggest problem!!! I never have enough of it...... I love to read, it's something I never do enough of, so I am very careful in my selection of reading material, I haven't got the time to waste on crap books with no character. I totally recommend this book well worth your time and money.