Adèle has only one goal in Baker Thief: 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: they are made of witches’ souls.
When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles 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. (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC of Baker Thief from the author in exchange for an honest review. I consider the author my friend, but that did not affect this glowing review.
There are absolutely no soggy bottoms or anything under-baked in Baker Thief, the first book in Claudie Arseneault’s latest fantasy series. All of the praise that will follow this is entirely warranted based on the content of Baker Thief. This is your warning that, much like this book, this review will be full of bread puns.
You can see from my reviews of her previous books, City of Strife and City of Betrayal, that I love Arseneault’s work. I knew from every bite she posted on her Patreon that I would also love Baker Thief.
Arseneault posted content warnings, complete with page numbers so that people can avoid triggers at the front of the book. Those warnings are: breaking and entering, genocide, gunshots, food, alcohol, mob violence, human experimentation, human trafficking, accidental misgendering, burns, breathing difficulties due to asthma and police violence
Set in a magical, steampunk Québec, Baker Thief takes romance tropes and uses them to create a strong aromantic relationship between a female cop and a bigender baker who moonlights as a thief. Once again, I fell head over heels for every single character in this story, but particularly Adéle and Claude/Claire.
Claude and Claire are the same person, but the different presentations for the titular character in Baker Thief. I will refer to this character as Claude/Claire for clarity’s sake and to not be an asshole about their identity. They use he/him pronouns as Claude and she/her pronouns as Claire.
Arseneault is not cis, but does not identify as bigender. As a cis reader, I felt that Claude/Claire’s identity was both nuanced and understandable even to someone who may not know what being bigender is. I loved that Arseneault took into account the mental strain it puts on people when they present in a way that isn’t accurate to the way they feel. That’s all I’ll say on the matter as a cisgender person. I suggest you seek out bigender and nonbinary reviewers for their thoughts on the representation.
I loved how diverse their universe was, with its own issues. You can tell exactly how much Arseneault loves the universe she created, and how much she knows about her world. This has always been one of my favorite parts of Arseneault’s books, and Baker Thief did not disappoint.
Arseneault herself is aromantic. I loved the nuance and discussions that went into making sure that both Adéle and Claude/Claire were fully aware of what they were getting into with each other. I loved that there were promises to discuss their relationship further later on. It was honestly a delight to read.