Sunday, January 28, 2018

Deadly Sweet (The Spellwork Syndicate, #1) by Lola Dodge

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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? 


𑁋

I received ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I really liked the premise for Deadly Sweet, but the story felt hollow. The synopsis makes it seem like Anise has this incredibly rare gift, but the book doesn't elaborate on that at all. She can bake spells into food, so that's cool, but why is that an uncommon power? Why is it so unusual in a town full of magical people?

The blurb is also misleading. She "books it to New Mexico," but it's not solely because she's excited about being an apprentice. Also, the reasons behind her leaving town are never resolved, and it isn't an issue that can be overlooked. Did her mother meddle with minds... I have no idea what happened there. Additionally, she left "without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl," but she didn't even know there was another girl to ask about!

Do not get me started on her "bodyguard," or whatever the hell he is. He has a contract with her, or Agatha, maybe the Syndicate... I'm not sure. It's obvious he doesn't want to be there, and his gruff attitude gets pretty old. The author doesn't even drop hints about him and where he came from, or why he's determined to protect Anise with his life. Everything felt unfinished. I know this was the first book in a series, but all of the characters were very blah. There wasn't anything special that made them stand out.

I am aware this was an advanced copy, but it was difficult to read through at times. There were a few paragraphs I had to skip over because I wasn't sure what the author was trying to say. Major plot holes, too. Characters would start off one way and then be something else by the end, or we would see someone for a few chapters and then poof.

The story had some compelling aspects, and I really liked the overall concept, but a lot of the magic didn't make sense. I wanted to know more about the vortex in Taos and all of the individual characters, but I felt like I was reading an outline--a lot of potential and very little detail.

12 comments:

  1. Aw sorry this was disappointing, sounds like it needs a little more work maybe. Hopefully the author and/or editor can get it cleaned up some, sounds like it has potential? The NM setting sounds fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked the idea of it, I think. It was enjoyable enough for me to keep reading until the end. It was just so disappointing overall. I do hope the finished product clears up most of these issues.

      The New Mexico setting would have been fun, if there had been any discussion about New Mexico. We're constantly told how hot it is, but that's basically it. I think there was a lot of potential for this story, it just didn't work for me.

      Delete
  2. Well, dang! At least the cover is lovely. Every time a synopsis holds so much promise but the book is horrible it makes me want to steal it and write a better book to go with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like I just skimmed the surface of what this story could be. The individual characters, the town, the baking and even the villain had so much potential to be more.

      Delete
  3. It sounds like a hot mess lol Such a fun cover though!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cover is also misleading, haha. The characters do not use potions to my knowledge. It's all thought, repetition and will. Like I said though, the magic wasn't elaborated on much, so maybe I'm wrong. According to the synopsis for the second book, I think this cover might be a better fit for it.

      Delete
  4. Baking and magic are a fun combination! Sorry the story had some issues and plot holes though. IT's frustrating when magic stuff doesn't quite make sense. When anything doesn't quite make sense, really. And even a first book in a series ought to give some explanations and have decent characters. Bummer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely bummed. I thought it was going to be a light and fun book, but I couldn't get past all the issues.

      Delete
  5. That's really disappointing, it had so much potential but the lack of detail and explanations really let this one down. I struggle with fantasy for much the same reasons, it can feel as though you're thrown into a storyline with very little details. I think it needed to be addressed by the end of the book to entice readers into wanting to pick up book two. Will be interesting to see where the author takes the series. Great review L and sorry you couldn't have enjoyed it more <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love fantasy! It's just that most fantasy books create their own world, and I need to know all of the rules. I want the author to describe everything in a way that makes the fantastical feel familiar. I would like to know terms and phrases without having to stop and think about them.

      Thank you! I'm sad I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

      Delete
  6. Oh my, this one sounds pretty awful. I hate, hate, HATE when it's hard to grasp what the hell is happening, and this one also seems like it is filled with plot-holes. Pity, when the premise sounds amazing, and the cover is super-pretty. Great review! :)

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's disappointing when a cover and synopsis grab your attention, but then the book falls flat. I honestly think more details and descriptions would have helped. I have trouble enjoying a book when I stumble through what the author is trying to say. I like for the words to flow from one page to the next.

      Delete

Comments are like buttons on a shirt, you don't want to miss one! Please check the "notify me" box at the bottom so you don't miss my response.