~ Book Review: Bitter Medicine (ARC) ~

Published March 14, 2023

Author: Mia Tsai

In this xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy, a Chinese immortal and a French elf navigate romance, family loyalty, and workplace demands. In her debut novel, Mia Tsai has created a paranormal adventure that is full of humor, passion, and depth.

As a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine, ignored middle child Elle was destined to be a doctor. Instead, she is underemployed as a mediocre magical calligrapher at the fairy temp agency, paranoid that her murderous younger brother will find her and their elder brother.

Using her full abilities will expose Elle’s location. Nevertheless, she challenges herself by covertly outfitting Luc, her client and crush, with high-powered glyphs.

Half-elf Luc, the agency’s top security expert, has his own secret: he’s responsible for a curse laid on two children from an old assignment. To heal them, he’ll need to perform his job duties with unrelenting excellence and earn time off from his tyrannical boss.

When Elle saves Luc’s life on a mission, he brings her a gift and a request for stronger magic to ensure success on the next job—except the next job is hunting down Elle’s younger brother.

As Luc and Elle collaborate, their chemistry blooms. Happiness, for once, is an option for them both. But Elle is loyal to her family, and Luc is bound by his true name. To win freedom from duty, they must make unexpected sacrifices.

Bitter Medicine is a standalone story that merges Xianxia-inspired Chinese magic systems and mythology with European-inspired mythology. There is a nice author’s note that goes into some background for the story and helps the reader understand her reasoning for certain elements. Elle is a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine and is on alert along with her older brother as her murderous younger brother is on the loose. Luc is a French half-elf who is a security agent and frequents Elle’s work. Their two journeys come together through the Agency the two characters work for, at different levels, and events involving Elle’s brother.

As Elle and Luc know each other before the story begins, the reader plays “catch up” with their relationship in a way. As the two spend time together, there is a lot of back and forth with their connection. One moment they are more familiar and the next they are more awkward. I think a little additional foundation for their dynamic in the beginning of the novel would have helped this element. The romance that develops between Luc and Elle was believable and I enjoyed their chemistry. It does develop quickly, so I do wish there were some transitional moments added to the story. I feel this would have helped readers, me included, connect to the developing romance more.

The pacing is not even throughout the novel or a standard progression to a climax and instead has fast and slow moments throughout. There is a lot of detail in the world and magic systems, yet I wish there was a little more for the characters. Their motivations are clear, and the goal of the novel is apparent, but I feel there are not enough details listed for the characters themselves, such as their backgrounds and general traits. As-is some pieces of the story feels underdeveloped, but I think the general foundation is there. Overall, this was an engaging novel with a lot of potential.

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Tachyon Publications, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

One thought on “~ Book Review: Bitter Medicine (ARC) ~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s