Review: “A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive BakingA Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Your inner 12-year-old wants to read this novel. That child is still there, so don’t be put off by the fact that this is a middle-grade book. The hero, Mona, is 14 years old, and she has some magical sourdough starter. She also has a brave, magical gingerbread cookie, which you can see depicted on the cover art of the book holding a sword. Then things go very wrong (long story; it’s a novel, after all), and she has to save the city where she lives.

Mona is self-aware, a little snide, and more than a little resentful that such a heavy burden falls on her young shoulders. She gets wise advice and help along the way, and she winds up a hero.

The pacing is fast. The story is sometimes silly, sometimes serious, and sometimes even a bit dark, because kids — including your own inner child — want to grapple with life’s big challenges. The vocabulary might be simple, but the story explores complex themes. One of them: Is it actually good to become a hero?

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