As a young witch in a world where witchcraft is frowned upon, Anise struggles to fit in. She wants to be a world class baker, but can't even be admitted to school because of her abilities. When she accidentally burns down the county fair, she's sent to live with her Great-Aunt who owns a famous witch-only bakery in Taos, a city steeped in witchcraft and folklore. Anise is excited to finally start her baking career, but someone else has other plans for her.
I initially picked up this book because of the title. Deadly Sweet has a cute but ominous feel to it and that sounded like an interesting dynamic for a novel. Once I discovered the book was about baking, I knew I had to read it. My sister in law is a great baker and the idea of mixing baking and magic seemed to make so much sense. I was worried the book would lean too heavily on magic or baking, but not mix the two very well, but that was definitely not the case. The elements go hand and hand and in the eyes of our narrator, Anise, one can not exist without the other.
First off, the setting for this book was a beautiful breath of fresh air compared to the stories I've read for the last couple of months. While I've loved all the books I've reviewed on here, they seem to follow a formula for their settings. We're in the regular world and there is a magical world secretly in the shadows, usually with some scenes at a high school. This was completely different. We're immediately told that witchcraft is real and everyone knows about it, although it's not welcome in most places. Also, while there are some college-esque class scenes, the majority of the story takes place outside of a school, which was a welcome change from the "formula".
All of the characters in this story really jumped off the page. They were vibrant and dynamic. The element of magic and other special abilities helped with this, but they also just had strong personalities. Anise's aunt, Agatha, for example is a mostly minor character but she commands a presence in every scene she's in, from her dialogue to her mannerisms. She's strong-willed, rebellious and intense. Each character is similarly well done, thought there are obvious variations in personality. I did wonder if the cast of this story was too large. We're introduced to a number of characters who are exciting and likable, but we only see them once or twice. One of Anise's friends we're introduced to and she has a big personality, but then as the plot progresses we only see her one or twice. It's a strange decision by the author, but this book is the first in a trilogy, so she may become more central later on in the series.
The plot for this book definitely matched my initial impressions of the title: cute and ominous. There's a lot of dark magic, looming evil and impending threats in the story. There's definitely some scary and thrilling moments, but overall this is a sweet story about baking, family and friendship. The plot is good and compelling, but not the reason I invested in reading this book. The plot was fairly simple and one-dimensional. I also predicted most of the plot twists. I was more interested in the relationships of the characters and the setting, than the plot itself.
Deadly Sweet is a fun, sweet story about baking, magic and friendship. It's a quick read that is perfect for those of us with a general interest in baking and love for fantasy. Expect a vivacious and large cast of witches with unique setting. Order a copy on Amazon, Barnes or Nobel, or as your local bookstore to buy a copy for you.