Deadly Sweet (The Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge (2018)
YA Fiction | Paranormal
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?
pooled ink Review:
I really enjoyed Lola Dodge’s Shadow Ravens/Quanta series and so I was excited to read her latest which jumps into a totally different genre. From Sci-fi, evil corporations, and underground resistance with Quanta we now meet Anise and magical bakeries. Deadly Sweet was so fun to read and it was especially perfect that I picked it up for the Halloween season! Magic, mystery, mayhem, and cakes! What is not to love??
Warning: If you do not like baking or desserts then this is not the book for you.
The story itself unfolded in a way that had me feeling invested right alongside Anise as she desperately tries to carve out a future, pursue her dreams, and deal with being a witch in a not overly witch-friendly world. She was feisty, realistic, and overall seemed pretty cool.
And those desserts!!
It is obvious to me that the author herself enjoys baking (and I bet she’s fantastic at it)…or else her research and writing has me totally fooled haha. But no, this book was not only a great start to a new YA Paranormal series but it felt like a passion project to an extent. I’d be surprised if baking isn’t something Lola loves to do when she isn’t busy writing! But that brings me to the downside of this book. Where were the snacks?? Haha! Reading about all of the delicious and enchanting (literally lol) things Anise bakes had me starving for desserts and store-bought cookies just didn’t cut it. Ah well. Lol.
But it’s not all sugar and spice, there’s a lurking threat, mysterious disappearances, and a level of danger Anise did not expect upon accepting a dream job apprenticeship. There was a lot of baking (which is to be expected, but if you don’t enjoy baking shows then they might feel a bit of a plot deterrent to you although I was okay with it) but the element of danger and mystery helped balance things out and keep it intriguing. I was really curious about the world of witchcraft and sorta wish there had been more of that but of course perhaps I’m just being impatient and we will learn more as the world develops in the series.
I’ve been on a bit of a paranormal binge lately (prompted by my trying to stay cliché with the Halloween season haha) and I have to say that this book really took on its own corner. Urban fantasy, strong female lead, dire situations and distant dreams, somehow it managed to really feel like its own thing. A bit lighter than most paranormal reads, a bit more fun and feel-good. Not to the extent of The Good Witch but it’s definitely no adrenaline and drama-injected The Vampire Diaries or anything like that. It was refreshing honestly. Not too heavy, not too light, Deadly Sweet is just that: dark, intriguing, fun, and tasty. If you’re on the hunt for a witchy read (and have a sweet tooth or adore The Great British Bake-Off) then I absolutely recommend you check this one out!
Purchase Here: Deadly Sweet
Meet Lola Dodge!
Lola is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University—and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on K-dramas and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.