Author Lisa Graff has created a beautiful world of deliciously interconnected stories that draw you in. It looks an awful lot like our world, but things are slightly off. It’s a world with magic running through it. One where people have Talents — that’s right, with a capital “T.” At the heart of it all is Cady, an orphan whose baking skills are unparalled. She’s particularly adept at sussing out the perfect flavor of cake for a person, whether they know it or not. (In fact, each chapter begins with a cake and recipe, with names like V’s Mystery Fudge Cake. Graff is said to have baked each of the recipes.)
It soon becomes clear that Cady is unknowingly tied to a group of people staying at a boarding house above a lost luggage store: a family with three spirited kids, a woman who’s lost the ability to speak, a loner, and the grouchy owner. If Cady is at the center of the story, which is told from multiple viewpoints, the thread through the tale is the large man in the gray suit enigmatic grin that ”suggested he knew more about the world than he’s letting on.” He shows up just in time to give a nudge in the right direction to those who need it, imparting a little insight about fate along the way.
Things get slightly confusing near the end as all the pieces come together, but the sheer enjoyment of the building storyline and a careful read of Graff’s lyrical style mitigates that.