The Baker and the Bard cover art
(Feiwel & Friends)

The Baker and the Bard

Writer/Artist: Fern Haught
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 5

Immediately upon entering cartoonist Fern Haught’s vibrant, fantastic world in The Baker and the Bard, the tension in your shoulders will ease. You can practically smell the fresh-baked bread in Juniper’s arms and hear the merry notes of Hadley’s flute coming from the corner of the Blue Heron Inn as you settle in with your beverage of choice and perhaps a tasty snack to enjoy the read.

This cozy fantasy adventure stays rooted in this feeling throughout, even as its protagonists—best friends with mutual crushes Juniper and Hadley—set out on a potentially harrowing quest.

Juniper, a satyr, works at Mira’s Bakery, where even the rudest customers applaud her incredible breadmaking skills. When a mysterious, wealthy customer walks in one morning and asks for 100 mushroom pastries for a weekend party, Mira initially refuses because the ingredients are hard to procure. But when said customer promises to pay handsomely, Mira agrees. She has other orders to fulfill, so Juniper and Hadley promise they can retrieve the ingredients she needs: glowing oyster mushrooms found only in a specific part of the forest.

With their deadline in mind, Juniper and Hadley set out, traveling through the forest to the city of Gryfice to get more information about where to find the mushrooms. Unfortunately, they discovered that something big and probably scary you have destroyed the townspeople’s crops, and they feel compelled to help—especially since the crop demolisher seems to be from the forest where they need to fetch the mushrooms for Mira. This puts a unique twist on their quest but doesn’t scare them off.

In many fantasy adventures, this would be the point in the story where things become increasingly tense and scary—not so in The Baker and the Bard. Haught writes their characters as confident and brave, willing to discover what’s around the corner and work together to solve problems. Without spoiling the plot, Juniper and Hadley make a surprising discovery that could be incredibly dangerous but is instead an opportunity for collaboration and growth for the townspeople of Gryfice and the native forest life.

The Baker and the Bard it is simply a beautiful book. Haught approaches fantasy through a warm, homey lens in which their characters explore the world and grow through what they learn. Their emotional maturity and communication inform how they interact, so their individual arcs feel more organic. Because the plot itself is relatively simple, Haught can focus on the characters and the world-building, which lends to the overall sweetness of the story.

Haught’s art is also stunning. They use a large, vibrant color palette and loose lines to create flow between panels. Backgrounds are simple but textured, and every once in a while, a full-page panel will leave you in awe. It’s clear Haught put a lot of time, love, and care into creating The Baker and the Bard because it reflects in every character moment—no matter how subtle—throughout the book. The pages feel alive. This world feels lived-in. Mira’s recipe for mushroom galettes is even included at the back of the book. Even though this is a fantasy, everything feels believable.

Simply put, The Baker and the Bard succeeds completely, and it’s a lovely read in which to reveal.

Final verdict: Buy


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