ARC Book Review: Sweet & Bitter Magic
This story was not quite what I expected it to be, but it completely exceeded my expectations.
Sweet & Bitter Magic by debut author Adrienne Tooley is an emotionally heavy plot in a lush world of witches and magic. Tamsin is banished from her home and cursed with the inability to love after good and desperate intentions turn into committing a magical crime. Now she lives off of stolen love and lives a life of shame and guilt. Wren lives with her ill father, doing whatever she can to keep him alive and comfortable, which means hiding her secret of her being a source: someone who is made of magic and can be used as a magical conduit for witches. When a magical plague invades their home, and Wren's father catches it, the two form a bargain: Tamsin will help Wren stop the magical plague in return for the love she has for her father. Their journey ends up allowing the both of them to analyze their own grief and emotional turmoil, which helps them to see it's okay to wish for something better for yourself.
What surprised me about this book was that it's not action-heavy. Instead of grand, tension-inducing magical battles, the story focuses heavily on each character's grief and healing. There is a magical battle near the end, but even then the battle uses the horrid strength of using and fighting with emotional turmoil, self-hatred, and grief. Tooley does a wonderful job allowing each character their own moments of working through their trauma and self-doubt, and even moments of Tamsin helping to talk up confidence in Wren and Wren reassuring and helping Tamsin to accept her past and move forward. It's a lovely story of support and healing with a magical twist.
The romance is a delightful slow burn to read. The romance gradually comes to life between Tamsin and Wren, and it's just so very soft and sweet to not only seeing the romance flourish between them as they spend more time together, but also seeing it flourish from the support they give one another. It's a pleasant slow burn with no frustration that you can sometimes feel with this style of romance. I mean, you have a character who is cursed with the inability to love! That's just asking for a good slow burn romance!
Oh, and might I add this book contains many favorite tropes (view spoiler) that just adds to the softness and 'magic' of the romance.
Get ready for this sapphic witchy read and definitely add it to your reading lists!
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Sweet & Bitter Magic publishes March 9th, 2021!
Where to purchase:
Check with your local Indie Book Stores!