Book Review: Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship.

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.

But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is pure brilliance. It's a swashbuckling story with plenty of high seas adventure and action; it's a political story about the evils inflicted by the British Empire (and China) surrounding opium; it's a story of redemption, growth, and rediscovering oneself; it's many other wonderful things I can't tell you, because spoilers.

In short, this book far exceeded my expectations and I absolutely adored it. It made me laugh out loud several times, it made me teary-eyed, it made me drool with the meal descriptions- it engaged me such that I was eager to dive back into it every time I had to turn the audiobook off. And the narrator was fantastic!

I highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction, pirates, swashbuckling, food, unexpected and delightful characters, juxtapositions, dry wit, and enjoyable stories. Everybody should read it (or listen to it)!

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