A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, that was quite an excellent book! My 9-year-old read it and then wanted to share it with me, so she asked me to read it to her before bed. I must say, this book was a lot more sophisticated than I expected from the title and from the expected audience. It’s quite a mature take at the subject matter; T. Kingfisher definitely believes in the maxim of not talking down to her audience. There are themes of death, PTSD, fantasy racism, wrongful arrest by the state, war, and so much more. It really does prepare kids, mentally, to deal with the fact that the adults don’t have it all together. The key, of course, that it does so realistically. It’s not the cruel or ineffectual adults of British kids novels, these are adults doing their best and still failing; or acting under selfish motives.
On top of all that, Kingfisher played with all the tropes and had quite a few minor plot twists that kept me guessing about which way things were going to go. The way she was dealing with things made me question whether this was the type of book where everyone would make it to the end or what the cost would be if they did.
I highly recommend this book for any young fantasy readers in your life who are ready to deal with some more mature themes (although, not mature as in adult – no real profanity, no sex, or anything like that). My 9-year-old ate it up, but you’ll have to judge if your reader is ready at that age or needs to wait a bit more. I’m definitely curious to see what else this author has written as T. Kingfisher (she has different genres under different pen names).
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