Deadly Delicious by K. L. Kincy

Happy Book Birthday! Today is the release day of the middle grade historical fantasy Deadly Delicious¬†by K. L. Kincy. And yes, I’m writing my children’s fiction under that pen name to keep it separate from my books for adults.

Check out Kirbi Fagan‘s gorgeous cover art!

Deadly Delicious - ebook cover

Twelve-year-old Josephine DeLune can’t take the heat this sweltering summer of 1955, and she was out of the kitchen long ago.

An awful cook, she ruins recipes left and right, and she certainly can’t compete with her family’s reputation for extraordinary food. Her daddy’s parents ran one of the best restaurants in all of Paris, but Josephine lives in Paris, Missouri. On her mama’s side, she’s up against a long tradition of sinfully delicious soul food. Rumor has it, her Creole ancestors cooked up some voodoo to make tasty even tastier. Josephine knows the secret ingredient: she comes from a long line of conjure witches with spellbinding culinary skills.

Disenchanted, Josephine works as a carhop at Carl and Earl’s Drive-In. Just plain old hamburgers, hot dogs, and curly fries, nothing magical about them. She’s got bigger fish to fry, though, when a grease fire erupts into a devilish creature who hisses her name with desire. Turns out he’s the Ravenous One, the granddaddy of all voodoo spirits, and he’s hungry for her soul. Josephine thinks he’s got the wrong girl–she’s no witch–but a gorgeous, dangerous night-skinned lady named Shaula sets her straight. Josephine is one of the most powerful witches alive, so overflowing with conjure that her out-of-control cooking simply catches fire.

Josephine would love to laugh this off, but Shaula warns her that she must learn to master her magic before the Ravenous One devours her soul. Spurred into action, Josephine breaks out her grandma’s old conjure cookbook and starts cooking. Nothing grand, just the usual recipes for undying friendship and revenge. But soon Josephine can’t escape the consequences of her conjure. When the people of Paris start turning into zombies with a strange fondness for cake, Josephine looks pretty responsible for their undead reawakening…

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Want to see how Kirbi whipped up the cover? Visit Candace’s Book Blog.

Deadly Delicious on Amazon

Deadly Delicious on Goodreads

Review: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Sheer buzz compelled me to buy Beautiful Creatures, even though I usually refrain from buying new hardcovers and often shy away from bestsellers, having quirky tastes. This book, however, did not disappoint. Rather, it has cemented in my mind what I now consider one of the unfailing, essential truths of its genre: good fantasy isn’t about the magical, but the mundane.

What do I mean by that? Think about it. When you read fantasy, particularly that set in the modern world, you expect a balance between the normal and the paranormal. But it’s more than that. Too many boring grocery-shopping and tooth-brushing scenes, and the reader chucks the book against the wall. Too many arbitrary rules of magic and weirdly random creatures, and the reader stops caring. The key, I believe, is when the fantastic abstracts and amplifies the ordinary. In a nutshell, fantasy is one big metaphor that allows us to feel our ordinary lives more vividly. Beautiful Creatures demonstrates this brilliantly.

What I love most about this book: not the magic, curses, and creatures, but the way the authors detail the small-town life of Gatlin, South Carolina, right down to the gravy and biscuits Amma cooks, the way everyone in Gatlin talks about the Civil War as if it happened yesterday, and the yearning Ethan feels to escape this Southern tradition and small-mindedness. Amma’s cooking ability is echoed by her ability to cook up voodoo; the Civil War, by ancient conflicts between the magical families of Casters; the small-mindedness, by the way people treat the clearly different, magically gifted girl Lena.

Reading this book is like eating a layer cake. You get a big bite of real Southern life, then a taste of magic that isn’t overwhelmingly strong or sweet. These two flavors perfectly complement each other. Take out the magic, and you would still have a good novel, but perhaps not a great one. Take out the mundane, and the magic wouldn’t have nearly the same resonance. The whole effect is of an expertly crafted metaphor about love overcoming prejudice, and whether your past determines your future. All mixed up in one batch of Southern Gothic.

I won’t go into much of the plot, since it’s a long book and most of the fun comes from discovering all its secrets. I will, however, highly recommend you try a taste of Beautiful Creatures. I found it delicious.