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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Hex Kitchen by Stephanie Fazio is the first book in the Hex Kitchen series. A grand tournament is held once in a decade that enlists participants to create magical dishes and inspires cutthroat competition. Kenzie worked hard to change her life since leaving New York. She changed her last name and put the world of food far behind her, saying goodbye to the scandal and scrutiny that rocked her life after her dad went to prison, as well as losing her boyfriend. When her nagging boss is desperate for a chef, she reluctantly takes the job and brings herself back into the world she left behind, only to be drawn into the magical and dark side of food. This pushes her to confront the ghosts she thought she had left behind. Elsewhere, Braxton is a culinary magician preparing for the competition and desperate to put his winnings toward saving his family's restaurants. Then he meets the daughter of the man who killed his twin brother and all he can think about is getting revenge. But when he finds himself drawn to her, it sparks an unexpected turn of events. Both characters are consumed with a desire, with one wanting revenge and the other wanting to disappear.
This story is filled with family strain seen in Kenzie's relationship with her dad and Braxton's familial duties. Stephanie Fazio puts a unique twist on the culinary world by weaving in magic that brings to life a world with darkness in the recipes, complications in the romance, and magical dishes. The descriptions of the magical food are breathtaking parts of this world with darkness underneath that's deadly and dangerous, creating a new outlook on how you'll view the culinary world. Among these scenes are everything from poisoned dishes to gingerbread men that move. The deeper Kenzie is drawn into the world, the more she learns about herself, and the more secrets are revealed that provide plenty of drama. Hell's Kitchen with a magical twist, Hex Kitchen is the story of being lost, grief, and the magic of food with themes of revenge, forgiveness, betrayal, and romance.