My Review of Deadly Sweet (The Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book, you guys!

Remember the phrase “sleeper hit”? More like a gem hidden among the sand.

Well, this book is exactly that. This book isn’t as flashy and epic as some of the NYT bestseller fantasy but it is so good!

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and the cover totally bought me in. I mean just look at it! The color and lustre of the cake? If you closely inspect, you can see the deadliness the title suggests.

This book is my second read for the year and I do not regret even one minute of it.

Okay, so let me go into the details.

01) Plot:

From Goodreads, here is the summary:

Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad no one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter.

Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl.

The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target.

If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?

The summary hooked me right in. I always loved books with baking being mentioned a lot *cough* Heartless *cough* and hearing how this book incorporates both baking and witchcraft, two of my favorite things in any book, I jumped right in.

And I was not disappointed!

Not even a bit!

Anyway, the plot is beautifully weaved, and the events are, though not totally unique and all, were refreshing due to the concept and the setting. I loved every moment of it. The book gave a fresh perspective to witchcraft and also a plot where both the teenage life of a girl and a witch and an aspiring baker is portrayed wonderfully. Wish I could gush more about this book without spoilers.

02) Characters:

Anise:

She’s the protagonist and I love her so much. Unlike lots of young adult female protagonists, she doesn’t brood or act melancholic and all. She struggles with her witch identity in front of humans, swoons over hot guys, binge eats and goofs around with friends at sleepovers and bonds strongly with her mom. Her passion and dream to become a baking witch and own a magical bakery is so endearing.

She is a teenager and acts like one, making impulsive decisions and later learning from it, a refreshing breath of air after reading brooding protagonists like Katniss, Tris and Laia.

Wynn:

He’s Anise’s bodyguard and a grumpy grandpa type character. His angry young man attitude clashes hilariously with Anise’s outgoing, perky and charming personality. His overprotective nature is shown hilariously and his banter with Anise is really LOL. He doesn’t speak much and if you wanna picture him, imagine the gigantic, Scottish bodybuilder from Brave and the crystal unicorn loving brute from Tangled. Though he’s at the opposite spectrum of Anise, in the end they come to tolerate each other.

And no, they aren’t love interests. I cannot picture him with her.

Agatha:

She’s Anise’s grand aunt and though she isn’t much like typical Granny characters, she’s still lovely and adorable in her own way. I love the way she addresses her grand niece as cupcake and owns a demon cat and wears earbuds to zone out.

Blair and Gabi:

They’re Anise’s witch best friends and both have their own personalities to adore. They also have their own importance in the book and the plot without being cardboard cutout.

03) Concept:

I had to acknowledge this part because this book gives quite a refreshing view of paranormal fantasy. You won’t find darkness and blood and gore here (only teeny tiny but because it was absolutely mandatory for the plot advancement) and I loved it! What a fresh take on witchcraft and magic! Anise and other baking witches can make you feel happy or sad or confident with the dessert they make for you with their spells, and everything in their prep, from choosing the right spoon or utensils to measurement and decoration. Everything is important.

But this book isn’t only about baking magic. Blair is a necromancer who parades around an army of undead bodyguards and whose family thus works as funeral parlor and takes care of the burial and other death related stuff. Gabi is a witch whose family works as vets because they’re good with animals. Another character, Jane, is a healing witch who works as a nurse. Also, did I mention Anise goes to a community college for witches in a witch centric town? And the jewelries they wear can store magic and spells?

G.E.N.I.U.S.!

04) Voice:

Seriously, Anise has such a great voice! She isn’t angsty or brooding or sarcastic (unless needed to). She’s awkward and shy and embarrassed and indecisive and funny and makes mistakes but never ever does she lament or whine. I loved being inside her mind and reading her thoughts. One example:

“Next time I baked for Wynn, I was folding in wasabi and a spell to give him hotdog farts.”

I cry-laughed at this!

Here is an aesthetic collage I collected from the author’s Twitter account (She follows me y’all!)

So there you have it, my review of Deadly Sweet. I’ll be waiting eagerly for its sequel, Sugar Spells, coming out in October, 2018.

For you information, this book is only available in eBook format.

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me an ARC for an honest review.

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