Hi friends! This was the book I received for my March OwlCrate Box! Each month you get a new title. Often they’re signed or have unique covers – I loved this cover – along with some really cute goodies and things from small artists. While I’m not an OwlCrate rep (I wish!), I would highly recommend checking them out.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Sweet & Bitter Magic is Adrienne Tooley’s debut novel. Exiled witch Tamsin is cursed with the inability to love. After committing one of the worst magical sins, she’s banished from the Coven and forced to eke out a life by taking love from others. Wren is a source – she can’t use magic, but she can see and supply it to others. When a magical plague ravages the kingdom and Wren’s father becomes infected, she and Tamsin strike a bargain – if Tamsin helps Wren find a way to stop the plague, Wren will give her the love she has for her father.
Oh noooo not another mostly forgettable book. The reading experience I had was entirely fine. I liked the relationship between Tamsin and Wren, although I wish it had developed more throughout the course of the novel as opposed to only at the end. I enjoyed the soft magic system and I did think it was a fun read. However, the ending of the book wrapped up far too neatly and conveniently given the stakes of the plot.
So, this book was really cute. I love a good LGBTQ+ relationship and this one was well done, although very slowly developed. Both our main characters had depth and intrigue and I thought they made a likeable pair that I could enjoy rooting for.
I thought this was a great example of a soft magic system done well. It was explained enough to seem like the author put thought and care into it, which I often take issue with in other YA fantasy magic systems. I also enjoyed Tamsin’s curse and conflict. I thought the way she obtains love and the effect it has on her personality was unique and interesting. All in all, this was a fun and enjoyable read, and I liked it more than I disliked it even though my negatives section will probably seem longer.
I have two issues with this novel, both of which I mentioned in my quick thoughts. The first of these is that this novel is marketed as an LGBTQ+ romance, but there is really no semblance of romance until the last 30 or so pages of the book. The romance developed not at all and then too fast all at once. I really liked the way these characters’ personalities played off of each other, I just wished that had been explored more throughout the plot as opposed to in the final few pages.
If you’ve been here long enough, you know that 1) book endings are incredibly important to me and 2) a book’s ending should match the stakes of the plot. If you’re going to war, your whole cast of characters should survive. It’s not realistic. It’s one of the many bones I have to pick with A Court of Thorns and Roses. So, be warned that you might get an inkling of what happens when I tell you that this ending was way too neat for what the plot demanded. Near deus ex machina level. Not kidding. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a book warp up with this nice of wrapping paper and as pretty of a bow as this one did. I don’t feel like it aligned with the direction the plot was heading and it really put a damper on my enjoyment of the book for me.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I’m giving Sweet & Bitter Magic 3 out of 5 stars. The slow build to a rushed romance and an inordinately tidy ending marred my enjoyment of this one. I loved the representation and I liked the idea of the plot, but certain elements could have been executed better for sure. If you like books with happy endings though, take a look at this one. I think you’d enjoy it.
Buy Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley here.*