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A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking

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As per author's note at the back on publication issues, IMO editors strongly underestimate children's taste. You won’t find world building on the scale of an epic fantasy here, but what you will get is a surprisingly touching and exciting plot in which the magic system plays a vital role. And that one Ginger Bread Cookie has more personality than most authors give to their main characters. Or real life and any number of groups who can be used to focus attention away from whatever an administration doesn’t want people to look at.

Unless you consider people who “ look like the ass end of a seagull” as being particularly mouthwatering, that is. 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.

Locus commended Vernon's "ability to craft engagingly quirky characters", and her portrayal of "a Pratchettian world where magic makes for a mostly amusing background, except when it doesn't. Patricia Santomasso has an extensive catalog of audiobooks under her belt and it can be heard in her presentation of this story.

I can't begin to describe how much I loved this absolutely delightful book featuring silly shenanigans, leavened with some serious undertones. The other downside (it’s all downsides) of Ursula Vernon being not as famous as she ought is that my library never gets any of her books — infuriating!There's a few standard characters rolled in (pushy, loving aunt, a thief) as well as some intriguing ones (the uncle, the horse witch). This is a another great adventure/detective/save the city story with Ursula Vernon's original brand of humour and imagination. Her talent is in convincing dough that it wants to do what SHE wants it to do, so it rises properly and it doesn’t burn. Well…a big formal wedding is about the same (and because we do cakes, I’ve been on the periphery of a few), except that if things go wrong in a siege you’ll all die horribly, and in formal weddings, the stakes are much higher. Often charming and personable animals are part of both authors’ formulas, but here instead of an animal sidekick we have animated gingerbread men and other bakery products with minds of their own, not to mention Bob the belching sourdough starter.

And no, until I read this book, I did not have much of an idea of what exactly a sourdough starter is. He was steadying himself with a hank of hair in one hand, and with the other he reached up and caught the tears I hadn’t known I was crying.But what makes this unique is the way the universe is created - the talents of the witches and wizards, the way the situations happen that exactly relate how a young girl would react, the fact that she didn’t want to be a hero, but just wanted adults to be more responsible and accountable.

I had so much fun reading this book, especially because the plot started out as one thing (a murder mystery with magic) and then grew and grew and ended up being rather epic. The supporting characters have fantastic depth and personality which really blends well to create this fabulous story. Disclaimer: I don’t bake (unless burning something to a crisp can be considered baking), and apparently neither does T.When you’re different, even just a little different, even in a way that people can’t see, you like to know that people in power won’t judge you for it. Shortly after discovering the dead body, Mona ends up in the middle of a growing plot against wizards in the city, and all that entails.

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