Book Review: Sweet and Bitter Magic

Published March 9th 2021

Author: Adrienne Tooley

In this debut fantasy, a witch cursed to never love meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic, and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first..

Sweet and Bitter Magic has been on my TBR for awhile as the cover and synopsis stood out to me. The story is dual POV from the two main characters, Wren, and Tamsin.  After the death of her younger sister, Wren has hidden the fact that she is a Source, a being made of magic although they cannot use it and are usually sent away to assist in training witches. She also hides this as her father is ill and she wants to stay to help him. As for Tamsin, is a witch who lives in exile and does not have the ability to love and accepts it as payment for her spells.

The pacing of the story is slower at the start where each character is introduced separately before being brought together by the plague that is spreading across the land. Wren and Tamsin begin as enemies where they reluctantly must work together. Their personalities are emphasized throughout that they are opposites of each other with Tamsin being the colder grumpy-type and Wren being the warmer sunshine-type. While Tamsin kept consistent as she slowly grew from the start of the story, Wren was a little more difficult to follow. Her personality seemed a little more inconsistent where her impulsiveness, naivety, and kindness along with her other traits kept changing suddenly. I am a fan of multi-characteristic personalities, but it came across as Wren’s personality changed just to suit the plot or interactions with Tamsin.

As the two characters travel to the Witchlands, the pacing of the story does slow where it was reminiscent of the pacing in a multi-book series. Elements of this journey were necessary for the plot and character development, but it seemed that some was drawn out too much as this is a standalone. Some pieces from the ending could have been addressed towards the middle and I believe this could have helped some of these center portions to not seem as dragged out. There are some twists and turns, but most were predictable, for me, however, I enjoyed that part as it fit the nice easy read that I was looking for at the time. Overall, I enjoyed the author’s writing style, but I am not sure this is a novel that I would re-read in the future.

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