The Confectioner’s Guild (The Confectioner’s Chronicles #1), by Claire Luana
Publish Date: October 23, 2018
Published by: Live Edge Publishing
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.**
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.
On reading the premise of this book I was immediately intrigued. It sounded both magical and mysterious and I was in the mood for a little bit of both. The Confectioner’s Guild turned out to be a semi-sweet tale that had a lot of intrigue and intricate world-building, some really interesting characters, and a unique blend of magic that added just the right touch to the story.
I really liked the world-building of the story. It takes place in a world filled with political and territorial disputes, tyrannical kings and the awfulness of invasion, and the power of merchant and craft guilds. In particular, the aperitive guilds have the most power and, as Wren discovers, this is because select people have the innate ability to mix magic into their edible creations. I thought this was a very unique magic system, especially because of how secretive it is and how the different types of food align with specific types of magic. The magic itself isn’t as big a part of the story as I would have liked, but the secret and use of it very much is.
The plot was intriguing from the start, full of much mystery and politics. It definitely kept me interested for the most part, and kept me guessing as well because so many suspects had the motivation to commit the murder Wren is being framed for, and yet there were so few clues to really be found. I did think there were some times when it lulled a little, and there was not a lot of action to speak of, but between the relationships Wren was creating and the mystery she was struggling to solve while also learning the ins and outs of her Guild kept me interested in the story.
I enjoyed Wren as the main character. She was content with the life she had, for the most part, but suddenly being framed for murder gives her the motivation to become brave and inspired to do what she must to find the true murderer. She had a lot of spunk, which I enjoyed greatly, and wasn’t afraid to do whatever she could to help with the investigation, even if it wasn’t always the smartest decision. There was a lot of dark history in Wren’s past, some of which was revealed over the course of the novel, but some which was not. I am particularly interested to know more about her time with the Red Wraith gang and what Ansel did exactly to betray her, and I find that I kind of like the fact that the author didn’t completely tell that tale in this book. It leaves more to be discovered about Wren in the next book, which is actually kind of refreshing. I also liked almost all of the side characters as well, as they were all unique and had more to their personality than first appeared, and made for a splendid cast of characters to this story.
As for the romance, I was on board from the start when there was some obvious chemistry between Wren and Lucas, but it was so subtle that when they started kissing halfway through the book (after knowing each other for about three or fours days maybe? I’m not sure, but it certainly didn’t seem that long), I kind of felt a little less enthused about it. Sure I still liked them as a couple, but in the over-arcing scheme of things, Lucas didn’t really have enough of a presence on the page, or even in Wren’s vicinity, to really make me feel like the chemistry between them was as strong as the author would have wanted me to believe. I feel like it could have definitely ended up there eventually, but not that quickly. I think what I wanted was just to see them spending more time together first, investigating together and getting to know one another, and letting that romance grow and blossom a little more naturally.
This was a stimulating read with some great world-building and a mystery that definitely had me struggling to figure out who committed the murder. The magic is subtle, like its qualities in the book, but the political intrigue and the characters really made this story what it was. It’s a fascinating read, one I would probably recommend more for mystery lovers though, and it does have me interested in continuing on with the next to find out what else is going to happen in this world of confectionary magic and mystery.