As you may know from my earlier post, I’m enjoying Neal Shusterman’s “Arc of Scythe” books. Thunderhead is book two in the series, and it brings the action in a big way. Here’s my Thunderhead book review.
As we delve deeper into the conflicts that have befallen the scythedom, the reader must consider some deep existential questions. Do individuals truly have control over their own destinies? Is the illusion of purpose essential to a successful society? Yeah, this book gets heavy. I love that, especially in a YA book.
The scythes, who are the bringers of death in the utopian world where natural death has been eradicated, are teetering between two governing ideologies: 1) scythes should have absolute freedom in deciding which people die and how many can be gleaned (killed), or 2) bringing death is a great responsibility and should be faced with thoughtful regulations to ensure the safety and integrity of all persons.
As the political tensions rise, the governing body that oversees all (the Thunderhead) is struggling with its inability to control or regulate the scythedom. Questions of whether people truly have free will and whether predetermined fate exists are woven through tension-filled scenes where the characters fight to protect their ideologies.
We see Rowan as a vigilante scythe slayer, bringing a brutal end to those scythes who choose to glean in barbaric ways. Citra, or Scythe Anastasia, continues her work as a junior scythe under Scythe Curie while clandestinely taking several risky revolutionary actions to further her cause. To add to the drama, many characters from book one make a surprising appearance. The climax of the book is unreal, and it ends on a tantalizing cliffhanger. I can’t wait to dive into book 3, The Toll, to find out what happens next!
I know I just described a pretty intense story, so how on earth does a dessert as sweet-sounding as blueberry cupcakes fit in here? Well, even though they wield a great, and often violent, responsibility, scythes have to eat too! And they seem to have a bit of a sweet tooth.
Periodically, all scythes in a region meet at conclave for an entire day to take care of official scythe business. The conclave in Thunderhead is particularly interesting and eventful, but aside from the political turmoil, there is always a decadent spread put out for each meal.
The midmorning break had everyone back in the rotunda, where the breakfast spread had been replaced by an artful array of cupcakes, all of which were frosted to match the robes of every MidMerican scythe. It was one of those things that must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and was impressive to look at, but it all fell apart as scythes crowded the table, trying to locate their particular cupcake, quite often finding that someone else with less patience had already eaten it.Thunderhead, Chapter 32
Now, I know the cupcakes mentioned here are described as heavily frosted and colorful, but I’m just not that into the typical cupcake. Don’t get me wrong, they’re often delicious, but I can only take so much yellow cake and buttercream frosting. So, I decided to pair this novel with a cupcake variation that’s still sweet and delicious, but a little less typical.
These blueberry cupcakes (slightly adapted) came out like a less dense and slightly sweeter blueberry muffin, which is exactly what I was going for. For added sweetness, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top before serving! They make an excellent reading snack.
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Then, you’ll want to gather your wet and dry ingredients:
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 & 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 & 1/2 cups blueberries lightly dusted with flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Toss your blueberries in a bit of flour. Add a little bit at a time and stir, just enough to lightly coat.
Next, cream your butter and sugar together. I used my stand mixer for this. I absolutely adore my KitchenAid stand mixer, and I use it all the time. If you love to bake, I highly recommend it. Otherwise, a hand mixer works great too!
Once your egg and sugar mixture is creamy, add in the eggs one at a time. Add in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Stir in about a fourth of the flour mixture into the wet mixture, and then some of the milk. Continue adding in the dry mix and milk a bit at a time and stir just until everything is combined. Be sure not to over mix! Fold in those blueberries. Your batter should look something like this:
I like to use cupcake wrappers because they cut down on mess and allow you to grab a treat without having to touch the cupcake itself. You should have enough batter to fill two 12-cup muffin pans. Drop roughly two tablespoons of batter in each wrapper.
Pop your pans in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. My batch took about 35 minutes to fully cook.
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 1¼ cups white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 2½ cups blueberries lightly coated with flour
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Toss your blueberries in a bit of flour. Add a little bit at a time and stir, just enough to lightly coat.
- Cream your butter and sugar together using a stand or hand mixer.
- Once your egg and sugar mixture is creamy, add in the eggs one at a time. Add in the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Stir in about a fourth of the flour mixture into the wet mixture, and then some of the milk. Continue adding in the dry mix and milk a bit at a time and stir just until everything is combined. Be sure not to over mix! Fold in those blueberries.
- You should have enough batter to fill two 12-cup muffin pans. Drop roughly two tablespoons of batter in each wrapper. If not using cupcake wrappers, be sure to grease pan before adding in flour.
- Pop your pans in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
Enjoy! These beauties work as a breakfast or snack as well as a dessert. Feel free to sprinkle with powdered sugar or even top with your favorite icing! I have a feeling a light glaze over the top (plain sugar or even lemon) would be absolutely delicious. And be sure to check out Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe series. The books are a bit lengthy, but they’re well worth it! As always, let me know what you think of this recipe or these books in the comments below. 🙂
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