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Baker Thief

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Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth.

When her twin disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship.


BAKER THIEF is the first in a fantasy series meant to reframe romance tropes within non-romantic relationship and centering aromantic characters. Those who love enemies-to-lovers and superheroes should enjoy the story!

413 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 26, 2018

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About the author

Claudie Arseneault

18 books392 followers
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders. The most recent, City of Strife, came out on February 22, 2017! Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 113 reviews
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews188 followers
June 3, 2018
3.5 stars.

I liked Baker Thief a lot more than I expected - I struggled to get into it for the first 25%, and I was then surprised by how much I liked the rest.

The beginning wasn't my favorite. Not only it was slow, which can happen and usually doesn't bother me, I also really didn't like the writing. It didn't flow well, at least at first, and it employed a lot of telling instead of showing, which isn't my favorite style: it keeps me at arm's length from the characters.
I don't know what happened later - if the writing got better or if I just got used to it - but in the second half I didn't have any problems with it.

The worldbuilding was really interesting, and I would love to know more about it. Baker Thief is set in what I think is a Canada-inspired fantasy city, and the main characters' language is French. There were a lot of French words, and as someone whose first language is not English, I always love when writers incorporate other languages into the story in a way that isn't awkward (monolingual English writers are usually really bad at it). Also, so many plot-relevant croissant puns, I loved them.
Baker Thief is set in a queer-normative society, has a mostly queer (if not all-queer) cast, and it's trans-, ace- and aro-inclusive, which is rare (so many queer books have no trans, aro and ace characters in the main cast, which... wasted potential). Also, there are characters who casually switch pronouns, use neopronouns or singular they, which is really nice to see.

But let's talk about the reason I read this book in the first place, which is the allosexual aromantic representation (the one thing I always look for in books and only found one other time).
The main characters of this book are Claire/Claude, a genderfluid aromantic baker who is a thief by night, and Adèle, a demisexual woman who is a police officer. Adèle has a crush on Claude-the-baker and is trying to catch Claire-the-thief, which would be the perfect set up for a hate-to-love romance - except this isn't going to be a romance.
Baker Thief reframes common romance tropes for aromantic characters and non-romantic relationships. It shows how non-romantic bonds and non-romantic love can be just as compelling if one takes the time to develop them. There's a focus on family and siblings as well, but what makes this book is Adèle's and Claire's story - it's exactly the kind of trope subversion I was here for. I liked how their relationship was developed and I liked them as characters, just as I really liked the portrayal of aromanticism in this story. The part in which Claire mentions how it felt to be in a romantic relationship when you do not feel romantic love, how it almost feels like a lie, like everyone is feeling in a way you never will? Never saw it in a book before.

While I did end up liking the protagonists after the beginning, the characterization of everyone else was lacking, and the main source of conflict - witch discrimination and literal witch hunts - wasn't always that interesting.
(The cats, however, were great. I ask for more cat scenes.)
But I have to say that this is not exactly my kind of fantasy either, I always prefer morally gray/dark stories to lighter fantasy. If you're looking for a mostly light fantasy read with no romance and great queer rep, Baker Thief is perfect for you.
Profile Image for Shira Glassman.
Author 25 books505 followers
August 21, 2018
...starring a baker who turns thief in order to help tear apart a brutal system, and the detective assigned to catch that thief – but for an arrest or smooches, we’re not sure yet!

When I tell people the elevator pitch for Baker Thief is that a quiet, cuddly baker finds out that the city's utility company is trapping any residents that happen to have magical abilities and using them as a municipal power source against their will, I've had people say, "Oh, so it's like The Matrix plus Soylent Green! So yes, it's that, and more -- it's science fiction with a non Anglo setting (Fictionalized Quebec, with a cast that speaks French), and it's science fiction dominated entirely by a cast of many types of queer and specifically ace/aro-spectrum representation, plus a fat title character, and disability rep (the detective heroine is asthmatic and there is also prosthetic rep.)

Claude, who has magical powers, would have been content just to bake croissants all day (in magical Québec, basically). But then he finds out that the shiny new power source that the utility company is so excited about, involves rounding up other magical people, trapping them, and sucking out their magical life force to keep the lights on across the city. We can’t have that, right?? So, being bigender, she takes to the rooftops as the purple-haired, saucy-tongued Claire, stealing back the little gems in which her fellow mages are trapped. This is the aromantic allosexual character. (I've seen this character referred to as aro ace in some people's recs posts, which is incorrect.)

Enter Adele, a police detective who just transferred in. She wants to catch the mysterious Claire, at first, but as she learns more about the conspiracy of course she’s on her side. She just doesn’t realize the masked vigilante is the same person as the cheerful, nurturing man who sells her that fresh pastry every morning. But she likes them both. The author’s twitter describes her as biromantic demisexual.

Baker Thief includes a lot of cinematic moments like a rescue from a warehouse fire in the dead of night, the inevitable sneaking into the lab of the villain, and a demonic Bridge of Light that, when illuminated, is going to use people up entirely. There are also lots of cozy moments that'll make you feel like you're curled up in a Quebecois café eating a croissant yourself, sharing time with these characters and their friends.

The cast represents various marginalizations, but not in a slapped on "roll call" kind of way because it's being written from the inside using themes that are deeply important to the author. While the main conflict of the story is clearly the battle with the utility company to rescue all the people trapped in the power source and stop them before they hurt anyone else, there's a realistic and sympathetic portrayals of a demisexual woman and the aro allo person with whom she's fallen in love trying to figure out how they're going to construct a relationship that works for their specific needs, preferences, and comfort levels, for example. (A quote about this: "Perhaps that had been wrong. Perhaps they had needed the layers, like how flaky dough required being folded over and over in order to rise. Would their bond be as strong without Claire's stealing and the shroud of mystery that had kept Adele from perceiving all of him? He liked to think every one of their interactions, even the rocky ones, had contributed to the final result, and they had now reached the last step: baking. He couldn't wait to see what would come out of the oven.")

Also, Claude isn't the only nonbinary character; I remember at least one other who uses clearly French-inspired neopronouns. That took me a minute chiefly because my French is so abysmal (I'm an American-born Yekke), so don't be thrown at pronouns that don't rhyme with "free" (like xie and nie do) -- they exist, too, and it's good for those of us reading comfortably from a position in Anglo-land to have this reminder.

So, in short, an adventure story that combines elements of fantasy and science fiction while centering ace and aro spectrum characters completely, set against a visually appealing backdrop (I've been to Quebec City and it's gorgeous.) And yes, the author is the same Claudie who organizes the Aro and Ace Rep in SFF database.
Profile Image for RoAnna Sylver.
Author 23 books263 followers
October 28, 2018
“They didn’t need more precise rules any more than they needed romantic love. They had faith—the kind that destroyed industries and changed the cityscape forever. All they needed was to keep communicating, and they would get through it fine.”

* * *

UGH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. An adventurous half-detective story, half-heist, all wrapped up in magic and soul-powered industry, cover-ups and machinations, actually good government employees with the peoples’ best interests in mind (HOW REFRESHING) and an incredible non-romantic relationship at the center. It felt so good to watch this form, watch 2 people with different orientations negotiate and find common ground as they become so important to one another, and know that at no point would they be invalidated or made to do anything they didn’t 100% want (perks of trusting the author~). So important.

And super fun, with found family feels, and amazing positive fat rep. (One of my favorite parts is when Adele sees her sister again after a long time away and sees she’s gained a lot of weight—and it’s a GOOD THING, she’s relieved, and thinks Emm will be so much healthier and safer, and just holy crap, we never GET THIS. I’m so glad we get this.)
May 26, 2018
Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!

I received a copy of Baker Thief from the author. As most of you know, by now, I am a huge fan of Claudie Arseneault’s writing. There’s something so welcoming about her writing style and it just makes me feel happy. When I was given the chance to read her newest book, I knew that I just had to say yes!

This book is #ownvoices for aromantic and asexual representation.


Filled with baked good mentions that will make your mouth water, Baker Thief focuses on Claire/Claude, the bigender town baker and thief at night, and, and Adèle, the new policewoman in town. I adored the baking puns, give me more!

If there’s one thing I’d like to see more of in the fantasy genre, it’s slice-of-life scenes, and as always, Claudie Arseneault delivers them. There’s something so heartwarming about reading familiar everyday scenes in a fantasy context.

As always, I’m so happy when I read books that have a character that has trouble breathing. Adèle has asthma and she needs to use vivifiant chamber to help her breathing. At first, I thought this was going to be mentioned only once, however, that’s not the case. Throughout the book, Adèle always has trouble breathing.

Another part that really spoke to me was that Claire/Claude did not drink alcohol. I loved that the community was so accepting about this!

The world building is wonderful. I was able to grasp the world almost immediately and I was intrigued by it. The exocores and how they are created was chilling to read about.

What made me really emotional was the queer platonic relationship. Do you know the feeling of not realising that you know that something is possible, until you realise that it is possible? That’s how I felt and it made me so happy. I loved how they accepted each other and didn’t expect the other to change for them.


If you like the enemies-to-lovers trope, try this non-romantic spin on it. Baker Thief is a humorous solarpunk novel with a huge focus on sibling relationships and friendships, and it has wonderful slice-of-life scenes in it!

You can get the book on Gumroad*. If you pre-order it, you will also receive Claude’s Croissant-toi Cookbook, which has 5 recipes in it!
*affiliate link

Trigger warnings: breaking and entering, genocide, gunshots, food, alcohol, mob violence, human experimentation, human trafficking, accidental misgendering, burns, breathing difficulties due to asthma, and police violence.

125 reviews19 followers
July 18, 2018
This is a fantasy action-mystery story with a lot of heart, a city that feels real enough to visit (and delectable baked goods that made me want to do more baking!) and a solid and delightful aromantic partnership story at the center. If the mystery sometimes left me wondering about some things () it didn't take away from the large cast of vivid and likable characters, most (possibly all?) of whom are also queer.

I really appreciated that Claude/Claire and Adèle talked about needs and boundaries in their relationship too, and I liked that they didn't have all of the answers figured out exactly but were willing to work together going forward. I look forward to seeing them and the rest of the characters again if more volumes are forthcoming! ^^
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
Author 18 books142 followers
July 2, 2018
The Baker Thief was a surprisingly standout read for me. I say surprising because I wasn't sure how I was going to take this one. I'd accepted it as an ARC, but all I knew about it was the name of the author, the fact that there was an aromantic protagonist and what I had gathered from the title itself.

What I hadn't heard was the gorgeous world building and word craft that Claudie Arseneault had under their belt. I was shocked to find how easily I fell into this world, how completely immersed I was, and how much I was rooting for all of the characters.

Well, all of the main characters. There are some people in this novel who are villains, but let it be clear that that is neither the thief or the policewoman who hunts her.

The characters themselves were full of various representations that don't often find themselves on the page, but most favourite of all for me was the fact that people in this world habitually introduce themselves with names and pronouns at once. It's wonderful and so seamlessly established that it makes you wonder why people make it so awkward here.

This is a world I want to live in, exocores and all.
Profile Image for Alex.
609 reviews66 followers
June 12, 2018
I received an ARC through from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If I had to sum up my feelings in one sentence, it would be this: I loved most of it, except for one thing that really took me out of the story.

There is a certain feeling of acceptance, understanding, safety and validation that (so far) seems unique to the works of indie queer authors. A sense of understanding that can only be found in a book with an aromantic bigender protagonist, a biromantic demisexual protagonist, these two being in a unique relationship fitting both of their needs, and a cast of nonbinary, aromantic, transgender and otherwise queer side characters (as well as some casual references to polyamory, and SIX CATS). The fact that there is a list of trigger warnings at the beginning with chapter numbers already suggested that I was about to read a book that really cared about its marginalised reader.

… Which is why the one exception to this rule felt like a slap in the face. While there was a warning for accidental misgendering in chapter 14, it didn’t quite prepare me. In this chapter, a new teenage character is introduced, and both Adéle and Claire initially refer to nem as “she/her” and “girl” initially. Once they are told the correct pronouns, they both use those without a problem, but there were two reasons why this felt wrong and unnecessary to me.

Read all about what I liked and what I didn't in my full review.
Profile Image for chad chrysanthemum.
222 reviews4 followers
March 15, 2021
It is with a heavy heart that I eventually decide to throw in the towel on Baker Thief. I've been reading it for more than a month and I've gotten 60% through, but it's just not clicking for me. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that reading should be fun, so I'm going to go read the two books that just came out this month that I'm much more excited about. Fingers crossed!
What makes this so difficult to do is that there is so much to love in Baker Thief. Let's do a numbered list:
1. The premise is brilliant - a steampunk/sci-fi version of quebec, a main character who is a baker by day and a thief by night, a mystery, and enemies to lovers (but not romantic!). Unfortunately, none of that was enough to make me actually enjoy this novel
2. Arsenault writes about queer people in a casual way, which makes it an exciting book to read. The main character Claude/Claire is bigender & aromantic, and while that makes up part of the story, it isn't the focus of it. This is also the first novel I've ever read to have a character use neopronouns & the first book to have more than one nb character - great stuff
3. It's very French! I really enjoyed the way that Cemetery Boys felt steeped in Latinx culture despite being written in English, and that's also how I felt about Baker Thief. I really enjoyed that Claude/Claire runs a bakery called "croissant-toi" (it's a pun on 'crois en toi', or 'believe in yourself')
4. The story has good pacing, action, and interestingly-developed relationships. Adele meets both Claire and Claude - but doesn't know that they're the same person. That makes for fun interactions!
Unfortunately, I thought Baker Thief was really dragged down by the writing style, which felt more tell than show, and just generally... not good. The worst part is that I can't really pin-point what was wrong with it - it just felt off, and it prevented me from properly engaging with the world or characters. Something about the writing style felt quite bad fanfiction, and it left me feeling on the other side of a wall than the story taking place.
I'd still recommend this novel, because I think there's a chance that others could really enjoy it and I'm just a weirdo for not getting into it. In addition, I don't regret having read as much as I have, so it could be fun just to read a bit and meet the characters.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,906 reviews1,235 followers
April 16, 2020
What's better than a magical mystery? A magical mystery featuring baked goods, you say? Sign me up! Baker Thief is a conventions-busting, inclusive, fun alternate world urban fantasy novel with mysteries and thrills and no small amount of underdogs taking on the corrupt underbelly of corporations.

It is, in short, a good read.

Adèle is a detective recently relocated and transferred to a new unit. Shortly after moving in, a masked, purple-haired thief named Claire breaks into Adèle’s new place, stealing an exocore. These are like magical batteries, and Claire believes there is something wrong with them. Claire is also Claude, the owner of a bakery Adèle has begun to frequent—but, of course, in the requisite dramatic irony, Adèle doesn’t know that. Claire’s genderfluidity isn’t out in public yet. As the mystery of the exocores mounts and more witches go missing, Adèle and Claire begin to develop feelings for each other. But when one is demisexual and the other is aromantic, what exactly do you call that kind of relationship?

Although this book certainly has some dark motifs to it—witches being persecuted and subject to science experiments, violence and murder, etc., there is a mirthfulness to Claudie Arsenault’s writing that is so enjoyably evident here. Baker Thief features little touches to the narration that let you immerse yourself in this world and its characters, whether it’s Claude discussing how relaxing he finds baking bread or Adèle feeling bolstered by her new captain’s sardonic responses to twists of fate. From chapter titles in French to wordplay and sarcastic remarks, there’s enough levity and humour here to keep the book feeling light despite the serious, high stakes of the plot. That’s not an easy tight rope to walk!

Elements of the mystery are going to be familiar to regular fantasy readers. Arsenault reaches deep into some rich fantasy tropes when it comes to the interactions between magic users and the environment. Nevertheless, she deploys these tropes with creativity and accuracy such that they land in fresh and interesting ways. She also understands pacing and scene/sequel construction, so even though I wasn’t always surprised by the turn of events, my brain was kept quite satisfied. Like a freshly-baked croissant, the plot makes your mouth water because of this familiarity rather than in spite of it.

My main critique of the book, and its plot, would be the handling of the climax and falling action. Don’t get me wrong: Arsenault sets up quite a confrontation between the bad guys and our ragtag band of intrepid heroes. Nevertheless, there is a smoothness to it that doesn’t pay off the way I’d like. I hope that, in future books, as the series develops and we learn more about the exocores and the persecution of witches, Adèle and Claire are faced with some more difficult choices in their quest to right these wrongs.

Baker Thief also strives to be inclusive and diversely representative in a very positive way. As an aromantic/asexual and trans person, it’s nice to see a society depicted where characters like me exist and our queerness is not persecuted. There is persecution and injustice in this society, but it’s directed at witches. Even the bad guys don’t misgender people in this world. Yes, Claire is still reluctant to reveal her “secret identity” to the world—but that’s wrapped up in the complications of her nightly activities. Moreover, I think Arsenault has it right that a world with less persecution of LGBTQ+ people doesn’t mean everyone is going to be 100% out right away. Questioning is still often a very personal and private thing!

There’s also fat rep, and some disability rep (both mental health and at least one character with a prosthetic limb).

All in all, I loved the world of Baker Thief. I loved that I could almost smell the food, and that the “romance” between the two protagonists was not, in fact, a romance. Let’s have more of that, shall we?
Profile Image for Abi (The Knights Who Say Book).
624 reviews94 followers
May 12, 2018
*I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

This is hard to review because I liked it in theory but in practice reading it felt a little like it was weighing me down. Like it was a bit of a slog because it was too slow, even with the tense mystery and action scenes. I think it could have been trimmed a little.

But maybe part of the problem just comes from the format. You're getting a mystery story from the perspective of two different main characters at the same time, so sometimes you learn information from one character and then have to sit through the other character figuring the same thing out, and I personally get frustrated with those kind of books.

But I don't want to let my frustration overwhelm the things I liked, like having multiple nonbinary characters in one book (main character and side characters! A variety of pronouns!) and having the main couple work out what a relationship between a demisexual and aromantic person would look like. Also, studies suggest straight&cis people just straight up don't exist in Val-de-Mer... iconic. And, speaking of iconic, Capitaine Koyani is my fave. There was humor, there was action, there was baking!

The worldbuilding is French-based which is different for me and I liked it, though I wonder if the French words sprinkled throughout would have frustrated me if I hadn't (badly) studied French in school.

So it was pretty good, but it just dragged too much.
Profile Image for Jess Crafts.
272 reviews45 followers
July 6, 2018
I picked this one up for two reasons, the aromantic rep and because it said thief in the title. Anyone who follows my reviews should probably know by now I have a weak spot for thieves. Going in I did think it might be light on the plot as sometimes character based indies that centre queer characters sometimes are but this book is equal parts adorable characters and action packed plot. I raced through it and not only the main characters but all of the supporting characters were brilliant, the action and intrigue kept me turning pages and needing to find out what happened next. The world created is inventive, and mixes science with magic, it has witches and a French inspired setting that felt real and vivid. But, just to warn you, one of the characters is a bigender (and aromantic) baker and he/she WILL make you crave croissants. I loved this book, I have a couple of other books by this author that I haven't got around to reading yet but they've just moved up the pile if this is the kind of story I can expect.
Profile Image for Zoe.
112 reviews
March 18, 2021
I loved the rep in this, but unfortunately couldn't warm up to style and plot...
Profile Image for Maraia.
470 reviews171 followers
July 2, 2018
This is my second book by Claudie Arseneault, and I'm officially a fan. Reading diverse fantasy makes me so happy, and this book is full of it. One of the main characters is aromantic and bigender, and the other is biromantic and demisexual. I learned a lot while watching two of them navigate a relationship together. My praise for Baker Thief doesn't stop at the great representation, though. It also has magic, an interesting mystery, a daring thief, a determined policewoman, lots of croissants, and a great cast of characters. What more could I ask for?
Profile Image for Chasia Lloyd.
699 reviews56 followers
August 29, 2018
Heck yeah, always here for a fat, bigender aromantic lead. Baker Thief is a fabulously-written fantasy with a compelling mystery, a deep love for bread and French puns, and some pretty great cats. The author has included a detailed list of content warnings at the beginning of the book--always appreciated!
Profile Image for Heather.
578 reviews8 followers
July 26, 2018

I picked this up because it combined a baker and a fantasy mystery.  There really isn't as much baking content as I would have liked because Claude the baker is off being a superhero and keeps needing to close the bakery.

What I Liked:

This is a fantasy world based in a French worldview.  The author is from Quebec and it shows in the French blended into this story.  I don't know that I've seen another book where this is so well combined.  Place names, official titles, etc are French.
There are witches in this world but they have been driven underground by persecution in the fairly recent past.  Nonmagical people think they are safe now because witches are gone.  Witches are not gone.
The main character is Claude/Claire.  They are genderfluid.  Generally, he is Claude during the day when he is baking and Claire at night when she is a thief.  That schedule of genders was working well until recently when Claude is starting to regret not being comfortable working during the day as Claire or spending the night as Claude depending on which gender feels most comfortable at the time.
It tackles issues relating to aromanticism and asexuality.  There are several characters at different places on the spectrum of aromanticism and asexuality so you don't get a single point of view of these topics.  It shows how aromantic people have relationships which is important if readers aren't familiar with this aspect of queerness.
The rest of the cast is also very diverse.  Many genders, sexualities, disabilities, and races are represented.  It is also very good at body acceptance of various sizes of people.

Things that are slightly off:

This isn't the author's fault but there is a major part of the plot that is very similar to part of the plot of Witchmark.  I loved that book so much and I read it first, so what should have felt like a surprising plot point felt like, "Oh, this again?"  The books came out about just about the same time so it is just a coincidence but it decreased my enjoyment a bit.

Things that I'll probably get yelled at on the internet for criticizing:

Sometimes the supporting characters were very awkwardly introduced.  The author was working hard to include characters from many different backgrounds which is good but it turned every character introduction into a descriptive list.  It is a case of telling the reader instead of showing the reader through the character's actions.  For example, you wouldn't necessarily be told when being introduced to your new boss what her sexual orientation was or that she was polyamorous.  Maybe you would see pictures on her desk or it would come up in conversation later.  
Sometimes the plot seemed to be set aside in order for a lesson about identity.  The worst instance of this was when Claire ran into a burning building, past a female-presenting witch who was setting the place on fire, and into a room where other witches were being held captive, in order to rescue them.  The witches inside ask their friend is ok.  Claire refers to her as "Fire girl" in her explanation.  At that point, she is informed that the witch is agender and not a girl.  My thought reading that passage was, "This is why conservatives laugh at us."  You are being rescued from a building that is literally on fire.  You were trapped and needed a person with super strength to get you out.  Now, while the fire is about to drop the whole ceiling on you, you take the time to admonish your rescuer for misgendering a person they literally saw in passing.  Run first - then figure out the proper pronouns of strangers you've never spoken to.  This book sometimes felt like an educational tome on identity more than a fantasy story.  That's fine if that was the author's goal but I would have liked to see both aspects blended together more seamlessly. 

 This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story
Profile Image for P.L. Stuart.
Author 3 books341 followers
August 29, 2022
I have provided an honest review of this book below for purposes of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) Number 8 competition in which this book is entered, and assigned to Before We Go Blog for judging.

My next SPFBO read was the steampunk fantasy/sci-fi “Baker Thief” by Claudie Arsenault. This was a fantastic, fun, thoughtful novel that combined superpowers, witches, non-romantic love, police procedural, semi-dark fantasy with a cozy fantasy feel, and some of the most positive inclusion and diverse representation I have read in any fantasy book.

Let me qualify this review by saying I am cisgender, heterosexual male, therefore, I am not a member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, though I consider myself an ally of that community. I beg indulgence in my analysis here, as I likely will be inadequate or inaccurate in appropriately capturing all the elements in this book related to LGBTQIA2S+. Please forgive me, in advance. I will do my best to do justice in this regard.

The book centres around the primary characters of Claude and Claire, and Adéle, their intensifying relationship.

Claude and Claire are the genderfluid, aromantic owner of the Croissant-toi, a lovely pastry shop that delights its loyal customers with tasty, comforting food and a warm, caring atmosphere. They utilize the “he/him” pronouns as Claude, while Claire uses the “she/her” pronouns. But Claude and Claire are hiding a secret lifestyle, as a burglar by night.

The reason for the nighttime thievery? Claude and Claire discover that their city’s utility company is engaged in a reprehensible practice, and aim to stop it. The city is – by force – corralling those residents who are magic-users, draining them of their life force, and tapping into that life force as a means of a substitute for hydro-electric power in the city.

The conduit for this new power obtained are bright red gems called exocores, which contain the essence of the magic-users inside. Claude and Claire are also a magic-user. The brave and good-hearted Claude and Claire elect to steal the exocores to prevent this horrible exploitation, and save their magic-user brethren.

So by day, while Claude bakes treats and lifts the spirits of his clientele, by night Claire prowls the rooftops of the city, stealing exocores. Then everything changes when Claude and Claire’s beloved twin sister, a magic-user herself, vanishes, making their crusade to save the city’s mages a lot more personal.

Meanwhile, Adéle is a police officer, who has relocated to the city where Claude and Claire live. Nervous about fitting in with her new service, just prior to her first day on the job, she is the victim of Claire’s theft. Adéle is perturbed that she has her own exocore stolen by the jovial, nonchalant, but capable thief, puzzled by Claire’s demeanour, and frustrated by her inability to immediately thwart the thief.

Adéle vows to track down Claire and bring her to justice, impressing her new colleagues in the process, and redeeming herself from the embarrassment of letting Claire get the upper hand. Little does Adéle realize that the personable and charismatic baker Claude whom Adéle is developing feelings for, and pondering dating, is also Claire, her nemesis.

But when Adéle uncovers the true nature of Claude and Claire’s secret vigilante activities, will she be on the side of the law, or the side of what’s right? And what about her burgeoning feelings for them? And theirs for her?

The characters in this book were stupendous, and the job that Arsenault did with characterization is marvellous.

As someone in law enforcement, I really gravitated towards Adéle’s character, the issues she faced balancing her morals with her duty, some of the challenges of working as a police officer within police culture (which has many positives, however definitely has many concerns, including a propensity to become toxic). She is also very human, with a physical challenge in asthma, and many human frailties. I love when a peak behind the tough and outwardly invincible exterior of coppers reveals their very mortal and highly vulnerable side.

Claude and Claire were also fantastic. I was reminded of the duality in all of us, through Claude and Claire’s gender fluidity. People are complex and made of many different sides, where even the opposite characteristics can be contained in one person. Claire is saucy, flamboyant, brilliant, enchanting, while Claude is witty, reserved, gentle, charismatic.

While I wanted a bit more out of the supplementary characters being fleshed out, the protagonists were so strong that it did not detract from my overall enjoyment, however slightly from the overall score. Still, I adored the fact that there were characters with prosthetics, disabled characters, characters with mental health concerns. The depictions were well-rounded and amazingly representative, if not sometimes left somewhat less explored to the depth that I would have desired.

The themes in the book are poignant. Aresenault takes the dilemma of an aromantic character and a demisexual character trying to sort out the boundaries, context, unique needs, comfort zones, and challenges of their relationship, and I found it extremely compelling. Arsenault illustrated that non-romantic love can be just as interesting as non-romantic love, and actually takes many of the common tropes associated with romantic love and flip some readers’ expectations, brilliantly. The author also pulls no punches about the difficulties of dealing with having to identify with a gender that one does not feel they belong to.

There is assuredly some darkness to the book, including human experimentation, genocide, police violence, with persecution, usury, even torture and murder of the witches. However, in the queer-normative society, not Utopian by any means, it is free of queer persecution. This was a refreshing take in terms of worldbuilding. Yet the darkness is presented in such a contrastingly humour, light style and flavour, the book often feels very much, as alluded to in the beginning of this review, like cozy fantasy, as opposed to dark urban fare.

And oh, that worldbuilding, which had me at being analogous with Quebec. As a Canadian who has visited and fallen in love particularly with Quebec City, upon which I believe the main setting is based, I could literally taste and smell the cuisine, feel the cobblestones beneath my feet, and drink in the sights while reading this book. Replete with the colloquialisms of Francophone society, the witticisms, even French-inspired neopronouns, this world had me captivated, and I loved spending every minute immersed in it.

Love for this book truly snuck up on me, and by the quarter way point, I was fully invested, and absolutely enamoured with it. The diverting themes, the trope subversion, the allosexual aromantic representation, the levity, wit, and light-hearted touch balanced with the darker themes, were so skillfully done. The trans, ace and aro spectrum characters, the enchanting and familiarly comforting setting, the mystery and police thriller elements, everything hit me in the feels.

I endorse “Baker Thief” to move forward to the semi-finals round in Before We Go Blog for SPFBO 8.

If I consider a book a five-star read, those are the books I will be recommending to be put forward for advancement to either a quarter-final, semi-final, or final round of SPFBO within Before We Go Blog.

For “Baker Thief,” my score is 4.50, rounded up to 5 out of 5 stars.

Profile Image for xbondola.
5 reviews2 followers
March 3, 2021
2.5 stars • ENGLISH BELOW 🔻

Volevo amare questo libro, sia perché le premesse sono super interessanti (al di là della trama, l'idea di sfruttare trope tipici del romance per raccontare di relazioni aromantiche è fantastica!), sia perché adoro le enemies to lovers e i supereroi. Il mio entusiasmo iniziale, però, è scemato con la lettura.

Credo che il problema principale di Baker Thief sia nello stile dell'autrice, che usa molto tell e poco show. Questo rallenta molto la lettura, anche perché ci sono tanti passaggi inutili e spiegazioni non necessarie che vengono inseriti durante le scene d'azione. Paradossalmente, ho trovato più scorrevole la parte iniziale del romanzo, che introduce cast e ambientazione, rispetto alla seconda metà – che avrebbe dovuto tenermi incollata alle pagine con la risoluzione del mistero e tutto ciò che ne consegue.

Parlando del mistero su cui s'incentra tutta la storia, c'erano le giuste premesse per creare qualcosa di avvincente: streghe rapite, una cospirazione nazionale, un genocidio in piena regola motivato dall'odio e dalla paura (tristemente attuale). Il problema è che, ancora una volta, tutto è molto astratto. Non si avverte quest'odio verso le streghe, la tensione nella città – qua e là c'è qualche commento sulla situazione, ma niente di abbastanza forte da convincermi della sua gravità effettiva. Dato che l'antagonista della storia è essenzialmente un “sistema” – perché sì, ci sono dei “villain”, ma non sono per niente delineati – lo si sarebbe potuto definire in modo più concreto, secondo me.

La posta in gioco è alta – molto alta – fin dall'inizio, ma solo sulla carta, nel senso che non si avverte davvero il pericolo. Non ho mai temuto davvero per il destino dei personaggi, non ho mai creduto stessero davvero rischiando la vita, e di conseguenza seguivo le scene d'azione con un certo distacco. Tutto si conclude in modo un po' deludente e anche abbastanza... vago? Dato che le descrizioni sono a tratti superficiali, le scene cruciali del finale per me si sono svolte in una sorta di vuoto cosmico generale.

I personaggi principali – Claude/Claire e Adèle – sono quelli meglio caratterizzati, e anche i due punti di vista attraverso cui viene raccontata la storia. Mi sono piaciuti molto entrambi, soprattutto Adèle, che pur essendo determinata e testarda è anche abbastanza intelligente da sapere quand'è arrivato il momento di fare un passo indietro e avere pazienza. Ho apprezzato anche i personaggi secondari, ma più che altro l'idea che mi sono fatta di ognuno di loro, dato che non gli è stato concesso molto spazio per risplendere.

Belle le relazioni che vengono ritratte. Adoro quando si parla di amicizia e legami familiari, soprattutto quelli tra fratelli e sorelle, e sono una sucker per il found family trope, perciò avrei voluto vedere più scene con l'intera squadra di Koyani. Ci sarebbero anche volute più scene dedicate a Claire e Adèle, perché anche se sono bellissime insieme non ho davvero percepito i loro sentimenti. Tutto molto raccontato e poco mostrato – e come già detto, credo che i maggiori difetti della storia siano generati da questo.

Una cosa che ho ADORATO della storia è stata la diversità che viene rappresentata: questo romanzo è la fiera del queer e non solo. Diverse identità di genere, diversi orientamenti, diversi colori della pelle e corporature – qui c'è spazio per tutto, e soprattutto per TUTTI. Ho adorato che Claire fosse grassa, tanto per dirne una, perché questo aspetto è trattato per ciò che è: una caratteristica del suo corpo che non ha connotazioni negative. Claire è grassa, sì, ed è anche forte e veloce, e se ne va in giro sui tetti della città come se fossero le sue strade personali, rischiando la vita per salvare i più deboli. Claire è grassa e fa comunque il culo ai cattivi. We stan.

Sentir parlare i personaggi in modo onesto e diretto dei loro orientamenti (Claude/Claire è aromantico/a, Adèle è bidemisessuale) è stata una ventata d'aria fresca, e vederli comunicare in modo così aperto e sano sui loro bisogni e desideri, ma anche i loro dubbi e le loro incertezze, è stata una delle cose più belle dell'intero libro. Si percepisce l'importanza che certe tematiche hanno per l'autrice, e credo che ci sia bisogno di più opere come questa, che facciano capire ai lettori quanto è vasta e variegata l'esperienza umana, e quanto sia importante riconoscere che l'amore ha mille volti, tutti intensi e importanti a modo loro.


I wanted to love this book, really, and I did love some parts of it, but more in theory than in practice. The thing is, the writing style is not my cup of tea (too much tell, not enough show), and I think the way the book is written slows the pace down too much and doesn't allow readers to truly connect with the characters and the story.

The idea behind Baker Thief (to reframe romance tropes within non-romantic relationships) is awesome, and I loved the way Claude/Claire's aromanticism was explored. I also loved how she and Adèle talked about their relationship, their conversations about boundaries and expectations and all the things they did and didn't want – good communication, what's not to love? Sadly, I didn't feel any chemistry between them (or between other characters) so I think they should've shared more meaningful interactions before they got closer.

I was a bit disappointed by the way the story developed. The mystery was interesting, and I actually felt sick at the thought of what was going on with the exocores and the witches, but the antagonist was too invisible, and the ending felt a bit rushed. The pacing was off.

The representation is beautiful, though. There's so much diversity, and it comes in so many forms: gender identities, sexual and romantic orientations, skin colors, body shapes, and disabilities. We need more books like this.
Profile Image for evelyn hugo’s #1 fan.
78 reviews76 followers
Want to read
April 17, 2018
This sounds really fucking cute and right up my alley? My library's ordering in a copy and I am!!! Excite to read!!! Also nbd but that cover is gORGEOUS
Profile Image for Jessie.
1,941 reviews26 followers
July 6, 2018
I love so many things about this book. The use of French and the occasional French-grammar-in-English. How very deeply queer it is, and in particular how aro it is (even though one of the two MCs is alloro). The value it places on people and truth together, in balance, and on many different kinds of relationships. All the tension and moments of action along with the slice-of-life moments.

One of the MCs is bigender; this character sometimes uses the name Claude and he/him pronouns and sometimes uses the name Claire and she/her pronouns, whichever fits his/her current gender presentation. I'm referring to the character as Claude/Claire throughout the review.

Relationships I really enjoyed seeing:
*Sibling relationships are vital to the book. Both MCs are incredibly close to at least one sibling, and those siblings are also very major characters. (Emmanuelle might be my favorite character, except I have a lot of maybe-favorites.)
*Friendship! Claude/Claire and Zita. <3 Zita is such a delight, and both the book and Claude/Claire are much better for her.
*The QPR between Adèle and Claude/Claire and the way they navigate what they want their relationship to look like is one of my favorite things. (I highlighted ...most of their final conversation, if I'm honest.) They're both clear with each other about what they want and what they can and can't give. Their relationship is deeply rooted in trust and faith in each other.
*Team relationships. Adèle joins a new police team at the beginning of the book and is nervous because she's had bad past experiences. Reading good and bad team dynamics here was pretty cool.
*Mentor-ish relationships. Claude/Claire isn't the only aromantic character. Claude/Claire talks about growing up around Denise Jalbert (the current mairesse of the city), who is aroace, and how she helped him/her figure out his aromanticism.

I enjoyed the worldbuilding, and there's so much more I want to know about all the quartiers and the history of this place and the places around it. There are different languages/dialects and groups of people. I want to spend so much time with Emmanuelle learning about science in this world. We get glimpses of so much richness.

There's so much queerness here. The two MCs are a bigender aromantic character and a biromantic demisexual character. There are multiple other trans and/or nonbinary characters (including characters who use they/them, ol/ol, and ne/nir pronouns), someone who is sapphic and polyamorous, the aroace mairesse, and another questioning arospec character. (I probably missed some. Also, I know there's more word-of-God aromanticism and asexuality that will become canon in future books.) There's other rep here too, not just queer rep -- a variety of skin colors, multiple disabled characters with different kinds of disabilities, multiple fat characters (including Claire/Claude).

Adèle is demisexual and sex-favorable, which isn't uncommon in books with demisexual characters, but what is uncommon -- what I appreciated a great deal -- is that she talks about her sex-favorability. In Adèle's case, isn't limited to times when she's sexually attracted to someone. ("Since I enjoy the occasional sexual encounter I usually don't wait on [sexual attraction].") This isn't how it works for every sex-favorable demi person, but it's much like how I felt a couple of years ago, and it meant a lot to see that. I also liked that Adèle's feelings about sex are different in different media. She "prefer[s] stories with less sex" and "enjoy[s] the occasional sexual encounter." These aren't contradictory, and sometimes our language around favorability/repulsion flattens that.

CW: implied colonialism, genocide, police brutality and other state violence, kidnapping and human trafficking, gun violence, mob violence, human experimentation, accidental misgendering. (Note: Claudie included a content warning list with associated chapters at the beginning of the book.)
Profile Image for Amy.
653 reviews132 followers
January 25, 2023
I don't know how I stumbled upon this or why I bought it. After all, witchy magical fiction isn't my usual genre. I think someone had labeled it as cozy fantasy, but I definitely wouldn't call it that despite one of the main settings being in a French-Canadian bakery. There was too much shooting and tension for it to feel remotely cozy.

By night, Claire is a masked thief. But she steals exocores for ethical reasons. By day, s/he's a baker named Claude. On one of Adele's first nights in the city, a masked Claire brazenly steals an exocore from her and the next morning serves her croissants at the local bakery. Their lives become even more intertwined as Adele is tasked with solving the exocore thefts across the city as her first assignment in her new police role. Eventually, Adele and Claire end up working together toward the same goal.

Wrapped up in this story is a history of a world where witches have been exploited for powers. So, there's an element of otherness-prejudice that exists to overcome. As the relationship between Claire and Adele develops into one of mutual caring, Claire seeks for Adele to understand her specific identity needs as a gender-fluid, aromantic witch. She likes people in her life, but she likes to have her own separate life so that she doesn't feel stifled. So, having Adele accept all of her differences without overstepping boundaries is important.

While I have several friends who self-identify in various ways, I really don't see it in the books I read, which is odd. It's interesting to read the inner dialogue of an aromantic who is interested in having a relationship but needing it to not be confining or overwhelming. I've known people like this, but they don't have a label for themselves. They've just been living apart and dating for 20 years or their husband lives 1000 miles away.

Anyhow, I vacillate between being completely enamored with this book and finding it a chore to read toward the end. There is definitely a depth of ideas to explore here. I think I was more interested in the dynamics between the characters than the action story that was unfolding with a race to save siblings and exocores. My 4 stars is really 4.5 stars. I can think of people to whom I would highly recommend this, but it's not for everyone.
Profile Image for Brittany Smith.
233 reviews228 followers
February 24, 2023

Finished this for aro week! Woo!

Definition of queernormative. A demi mc, a genderfluid aro mc, queerplatonic pairing, trans characters, lesbians, neo pronouns, the whole nine yards.

I loved how we got to see them talk about their relationship at the end and figure stuff out.

Thief characters and thievery plot lines aren’t really my cup of tea and I wasn’t super in the mood for this book at time of reading, but it was an interesting concept, and a good book to feature lots of aspec rep specifically.
Profile Image for Dannica.
689 reviews24 followers
May 6, 2018
I liked the premise of center aro and ace characters within a story with the beats of a romance, and I like both bakers and thievery, so I embarked on this adventure. (Also the purple cover. I also like purple.)

Claire (sometimes Claude) owns a bakery and would love to live a peaceful life, but after discovering something shady is going on with the production of futuristic "exocores", an energy supplying device in this sci-fi/fantasy city, she becomes a vigilante out to steal exocores and figure out what's going on with their production. It turns out they are made using witch's souls and magic--witches are largely discriminated against in this universe. Things get more dangerous when Claire's sister is taken. Not to mention Claire is wanted by the law.

Meanwhile, Adele, a police officer who lives in the neighborhood, is out to catch the vigilante/thief, but meanwhile is making friends with Claude, Claire's daytime persona.

My Thoughts
I liked the premise. An enemies-to-friends or enemies-to-lovers story is always up my alley, so this is definitely a story that got my attention with that aspect! On that end, though, I'd have to say that while I liked seeing Claire and Adele's relationship transform from antagonism to trust, the antagonism could have been a little stronger. Adele is very quick to wonder if maybe this thief actually has a good reason for what she's doing, when there's really no reason to assume she's not just a thief apart from her own word. So while I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop, it did feel a little too easy in some ways. But maybe that's partly because Adele and Claude already have a bond, so Claire works extra hard to bond with Adele in her vigilante persona too? Idk?

Adele is the type of character I like: she's willing to listen to others but she has a single-minded pursuit of justice. I mean, much as I love the vigilante/antihero type there's also something that's just appealing about a firm law-woman, and Adele has that appeal. Her desire to please her unit is also very sympathetic.

Claire actually is similar in that she's more about the justice and saving witches than she is about thievery and hijinks, which means she comes across less as the archetypal phantom thief and more as the maligned superhero type. It's fun sometimes to see her try to play the nonchalant, cool thief, because the facade breaks down very quickly--she's just a very earnest person. Maybe that's one reason she and Adele have chemistry.

I know one of the central goals of this book is diversity, with aroace and genderfluid and genderqueer characters, so I'll comment a little on representation, but please remember I'm a cis bi woman. I'm hardly an expert on either of these things.

So. Um. As someone who doesn't think too much about pronouns, the number of people with alternative pronoun choices (ne, ol, etc.) threw me off sometimes, but that's probably be a good thing. The casual queerness is enjoyable--I did find it kind of jarring that at one point someone pauses to correct pronouns before clarifying where to find someone in a burning building because priorities? but most of the time the queerness flows naturally into Arseneault's world, which seems to be a world where queerness is more generally visible and acceptable than the real world. So that's cool. No real insight on the aroace representation. I can say I really appreciated a story where happily-ever-after can be between friends rather than lovers, though on the other hand certain elements seemed odd coming from an ace character: Would Adele really already be thinking of Claude as someone she wants to date or eventually have a sexual relationship with if she's demi? (But then again, Arseneault probably knows better than me!)

Claire's gender fluidity was a very interesting aspect of her character for me. I'm calling her Claire and using she/her pronouns here because that's what the blurb does but within the text she identifies as Claude a decent proportion of the time, and presents as male when she is a baker/civilian rather than a vigilante thief. I liked that despite this division she has created for her identities you still see that it's not always so neat--sometimes as Claude, for example, she's really feeling more female at the moment but can't express it. So that's cool.

Again, take all my thoughts on rep with a grain of salt.

Overall, the world Arseneault created feels warm, multi-faceted and lively. I like the little details that go into it: restaurants made entirely of crystal, tension between reporters and policemen, all kinds of political shenanigans, CLEAN ENERGY. I do think this book might be a little overly ambitious: there are so many characters introduced, and we're really only given focus on one relationship even though there are so many angles to be explored. However, since this is the first in the series there's plenty of time to go deeper with the characters and the world, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

The book is available for preorder now and will release on June 26. I'd recommend for queer stuff and an interestingly built world (and the equivalent of a coffeeshop AU lols). I received an eARC through the Kraken Collective in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Fitzgerald.
Author 4 books46 followers
June 18, 2018
Although it has some dark elements, Baker Thief is a charming story whose strength lies in its interpersonal connections.

The cast is wonderfully diverse with characters at the intersections of multiple marginalisations. No one shows this better than the titular character. Claire is genderfluid, sometimes feeling more comfortable as Claude. She splits her roles as baker and thief between her genders: by day, he is Claude the baker, by night, she is Claire, the Exocore Thief. While this works to protect her identity, it also works against her because her genderfluidity isn't that neat. For example, there are days when Claude wishes he didn't have to open up the bakery and could spend the time as Claire instead.

In addition to being genderfluid, Claire is also fat. This seems like an unconventional choice for a superhero, but her fatness is never slows her down. Indeed, it is never a big deal in the story. Better still, her figure is shown as one still desireable to a more conventionally attractive character, which was something I very much appreciated. And it in turn led to some exploration of Claire's aromantic identity.

Pretty much the rest of the cast is likewise diverse in at least one way. Adele suffers from asthma. Her boss uses a prosthetic arm. Other members of their team are trans and one is an older, black, polyam woman. This diversity is supported by the worldbuilding: this is a society where it is normal to include one's pronouns when introducing oneself and there are a variety of pronouns used throughout the story. It's a society in which Claire's reticence about her genderfluidity is rather unusual--a possible weak point of the story. It is portrayed as being the result of Claire's own uncertainty about her identity, but it does seem a little out of keeping with the setting.

Another thing I very much enjoyed about the story is that it features found family and family. Both Claire and Adele have good relationships with their sisters, each of which plays an important part in the story. The disappearance of Claire's twin sister raises the stakes for her, lending urgency to her investigation of the exocores, while Adele's investigation of Claire's thefts leads the policewoman to develop a closer relationship with her own sister--an expert in the field of energy technology.

This might be a superhero story, but it's not a lone superhero story. A key theme is learning to rely on others. Both Claire and Adele start out on their own, each with a heavy burden to shoulder. At first, they try to do it on their own, but they slowly learn that there are times they need to ask for help and to recognise that there are communities around them waiting to support them. In Adele's case, this is the new police unit she has been transferred to. In Claire's case, it is the witchy community she has been out of touch with since her family fled the city.

And while there is a strong focus on relationships, these moments of personal connection were counterbalanced with some of the dramatic set pieces so characteristic of superhero stories.

All in all, Baker Thief was a delightful book with a vibrant setting and a fantastic cast of characters. I've got my fingers crossed for more, since there is plenty of space for future stories to explore and I would love to hear more from Claire and Adele's friends.

This review first appeared on Earl Grey Editing.
Profile Image for Lara.
58 reviews28 followers
February 25, 2021
My fellow beings, let me just say this book is amazing.

Our two main characters are Claire, who is genderfluid aromantic (I'm so happy to see a main aromantic (but allosexual) character in a book, I could cry), and Adèle, who is demisexual. I've never seen this much representation of marginalised identities in one book. We have side characters with many different sexualities, a non-binary person using neopronous, people with disabilities, and all races included. In the background of one scene, the conversation of someone buying a binder and another character being in a polyamorous relationship was also heard.

I loved how in the office the police detectives had their pronouns written on plaques along with their names.

The imagery of the setting is gorgeous. The town was inspired by Quebec City, but I couldn't help to think how it reminded me of Kiki's Delivery Service, for some reason.
Profile Image for Anna.
Author 24 books594 followers
August 31, 2018
I liked this. Lots of diversity. Not too dark. A book about family and friendships.

It took me a bit to get into, though. And it felt long, even though I don't think it actually is. One thing that did ping on me, as someone non-binary, is that it seemed to be only the folks using pronouns other than he or she-based ones that introduced themselves with names and pronouns. Everyone else...didn't. And that made me a little uncomfortable.

But it was nice seeing so much nonbinary and agender rep, as well as the aromantic rep.
Profile Image for silvirgirl .
10 reviews
May 2, 2021
A lot of representation, some interesting characters, but really needed editing. Too long for the story, too complicated for the length, most characters not very developed, awkward phrasing at times. not bad but not great.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews113 followers
July 26, 2020
3.5 stars

I was really looking forward to this book, so I'm very sad that I didn't end up enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I think this book has a lot to offer, there were just things that I didn't necessarily connect with that made me not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

First off, the good things! I want to mention the diversity in this book and how inclusive the world was! I really appreciated the fact that we had an aromantic genderfluid main character and a demisexual main character and those words are used on page!! in a fantasy!! And there were also a lot of nonbinary side character and qpoc side characters, which was really neat to see in a fantasy! I also thought the world in general was just really well established and I enjoyed the way the plot built off of the world!!

I also really loved the way this takes popular romance tropes and uses them in a friendship story. I loved the development of the friendship in this novel and I really loved the way the whole thing was resolved at the end. Both of our main characters are just so precious and I adored seeing their relationship develop.

I also really loved the fact that one of our MCs has a bakery and we got to hear about him baking things. I very much enjoyed hearing all the details about pastries and baguettes. I do wish we had gotten to see more of it because it was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book.

Now onto the things that I didn't really love!

I didn't really connect with the writing style. A lot of it felt like a lot more telling than showing and it felt repetitive in parts, which made it hard to get into the story. There wasn't really any distinct voice for either of the characters, which left me feeling a bit lost for some of the time.

I also thought the plot took way too long to start up and I was very bored for the first quarter of this book. I did end up enjoying it more as the story went on, but at the start, I didn't really connect with it at all and it took me a while to get invested in the story. That said, there were some things in the plot that I felt like came out of nowhere and left me a bit confused.

The side characters also weren't very well-developed and I kept confusing some of them with others because they didn't really have enough personality or page-time for us to get to know them better beyond names and I'm very bad with names, so it's only natural that I confused all of them. I do wish we had gotten to see more of them because I think there was a lot of potential there with them, but unfortunately, they didn't live up to it.

Overall, I think this was a decent book, but there were a couple of things that prevent me from really giving this the rating that I wanted to give it. I think this really has the potential to tick all the boxes for someone though, so I would still recommend it because it's a really original fantasy story!!
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