THE CONFECTIONER’S GUILD
SERIES: The confectioner Chronicles, #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA Fantasy, Mystery/ Crime
A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.
Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake.
Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover who framed her or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her. But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the guild master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate.
If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.
Combine one-part Hogwarts to one-part The Great British Bake-Off then add a dash of murder and intrigue. Bake for around 400 pages and you’ll get The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana.
To be honest, from the burb and cover, I was expecting The Confectioner’s Guild to be either a Middle Grade story, or a cosy mystery novel. It’s actually a pretty dark YA fantasy and I enjoyed it way more than I was expecting.
The main character – Wren – is plucky, brave and everything you’d expect in a protagonist. But she also has some dark secrets, and an intriguing sense of pragmatism and distrust of others. The cast of characters were interesting with lots of different factions and infighting built into the political and Guild structure of the world. I’m looking forward to seeing how the conflict develops as it increases in scale through the future novels.
My absolute favourite part of The Confectioner’s Guild was the magic system. Essentially, there are nine food and drink related Guilds, which hold an unusual amount of power within the country, second only to the royal family. These are Guild like the butchers, cheesemongers, Confectioners etc. As well as supporting and training regular artisans, each Guilds also supports Gifted artisans in their field. Obviously, Wren finds out she’s one of these Gifted people. This means that she’s able to infuse certain magical properties into the food that she creates. Each Gifted individual can manifest magic slightly differently. For instance, Wren infuses good luck into her bakes. I find this whole magical system fascinating, not least because author has got a really interesting sense of scales and balances worked out. Although Wren can bake luck into things, it uses up her own good luck to do so and can leave her physically drained. I’m looking forward to seeing other bakers and hopefully, other Guilds, developed in the future books.
The Confectioner’s Guild is a clever murder mystery and a unique immersive fantasy. However, I would warn readers that it is a little darker than it might first appear. There are scenes of physical torture, and the implied threat of sexual assault. Also, the romance between Wren and Lucas made me a little uncomfortable. Multiple times it is mentioned that Wren is around about sixteen and she guesses Lucas’s age at about twenty.. She does act, I felt, older than 16, but the age gap still makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I’m not entirely sure why the author didn’t just make Wren a tad older. However, this was an ARC and might change before the final draught comes out, but it’s something that readers might want to be aware of.