You already know that I love any magical baking story – something about the concept of baking spells into cake just really makes me happy. This series is a really great example of heartwarming YA/NA contemporary witch fantasy! (Plus, I am living for the aesthetic of these covers!)
Books: Deadly Sweet and Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge
Read before? No
Ownership: First bought as Kindle e-book, second provided by NetGalley for fair review. All opinions my own.
These books follow Anise Wise, a young woman with a magical talent for baking, as she moves away from her previous normal life with her mother, into Taos, a community of witches, so she can take an apprenticeship at her aunt’s magical bakery. The first book mainly deals with how Anise settles in and learns about her powers and her heritage, but there is also a mystery element, as there appears to be an assassin in town… There are a lot of delicious sounding desserts and cakes, too! There’s slightly less baking in the second book than in the first, as a lot of the plot revolves around something going very awry with Anise’s magic after the incidents in the first book – everything she bakes turns to something horrible, and there are vampires about who would love to take advantage of this…
Honestly, these books are just so much fun! I love reading from Anise’s perspective, as she has a really engaging voice. Her enthusiasm for baking shines through, as does a certain amount of her real-world sass, which is amusing set against the politeness of the witch society of Taos. It was great to see so many strong and well-faceted female characters – the majority of people that Anise interacts with in Taos are women, and there’s a sense of community that made this really heart-warming. It’s sadly unusual to find women supporting women so whole-heartedly in YA fiction, but Anise’s community of witches is so kind and powerful and supportive. It made me grin throughout.
As these are quite short books with pretty big twists, I can’t tell you much more about the plot, but suffice to say, I love this kind of cozy fantasy – I’d love more recommendations for low-angst books with supportive cinnamon roll characters. Bonus points if the book features actual cinnamon rolls or other baked goods too! Deadly Sweet and Sugar Spells are going firmly on the comfort reread shelf, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the third book, Wicked Tasty, which I believe publishes in March. I gave both books five out of five cats each!