I love food-based magic. Usually you see it most in middle grade (check out my reviews of Baker’s Magic and The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart!), but The Confectioner’s Guild is a fantastic example of a YA book with excellent food magic, gorgeously tasty descriptions, and plenty of adventure.
Book; The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC sent by NetGalley for fair review, but I will also be buying a paperback.
Just to get this out of the way: one tiny point about this is that I’m really not convinced about the use of apostrophes in the text. Surely if it is a guild of confectioners, it is the Confectioners’ Guild? All the guilds have this singular possessive apostrophe and it’s a little weird. I had to tune it out…
The Confectioner’s Guild follows Wren, a young woman who, unbeknownst to her, is more than just a good baker. She’s actually a magic baker. When she is initiated into the titular guild and introduced to her powers, it looks as though a brand new life of opportunity has opened up to her – until she is framed for the murder of the Guildmaster. In order to save her life and her place at the Guild, Wren must prove her innocence, which leads to her uncovering the seedy side of guild politics.
I am fascinated by the workings of the different guilds and by the riotously colourful cast of the people who run them! While the world-building is extremely satisfying, I feel like there were so many threads raised in this book to explore in the sequels, and as Wren follows the rotten politics up to the top, I think there’s a lot more for us to discover with her. I love a bit of subterfuge, and there’s some wonderful sneaky moments of amateur espionage that had me grinning. The pacing is just right – putting a deadline on an investigation always keeps things moving – and every piece of information builds into a really exciting mystery.
Wren is great. I did, at the beginning, wonder how old she was (I don’t think it’s ever explicitly mentioned but I think you can peg her at about 17, since there is some romance, but it’s strictly in the sweet YA category). There’s no reason this wouldn’t be suitable for a younger reader if they had the reading skill for it. In some ways, she’s a typical witty, resilient YA heroine, but I found her very enjoyable to read about, and I loved watching her attempts at spying! She’s very easy to root for, if a little naive, and I was keen to see how she matures, especially in her powers.
I really liked the romance in this! I did think at the beginning that we were going to get a love triangle, which I’m always meh about, but I loved that one of the guys swiftly became a good friend rather than a love interest. It’s great to see a character in YA acknowledge that they find someone physically attractive without needing to go all gooey and insta-lovey over them – a slightly awkward crush, then realising that you’re better as friends, is so much more realistic! The romance itself is very sweet and cosy feeling, without being too dramatic. It’s really lovely to just read about people being good for each other! The very end of the book made me feel so warm and fuzzy.
Actually, this whole book feels like a hug. It’s a perfect autumnal read that made me feel like snuggling up under a blanket with a big cup of tea and a purring cat – it somehow has that hopeful, joyful feel of good middle grade storytelling, in a YA book. It’s so nice to read something nice for a change. Fans of Stephanie Burgis or Diana Wynne Jones should definitely get on this one, as it’s got a very similar comforting, home-y magical feel. Grab a cupcake before you sit down with this one, as it’ll make you hungry, but definitely make time for it! Five out of five cup-cats!