I could not believe I am able to participate in this blog tour for Sweet & Bitter Magic. This is one of my most anticipated reads and WOW did it live up to that expectation! I am not joking when I say that I’m obsessed with this book and I need a series continuation of at least 10 more please.
Thank you to TBR & Beyond Tours for allowing me to participate and review this book! Be sure to check out my post on Instagram as well as the giveaway being hosted! More information at the end of my post. And be sure to check out the tour schedule on TBR & Beyond’s website for more reviews and other amazing posts!
Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
Published: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Girls of Paper and Fire, 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.
Have you ever started a book and from the first chapter thought to yourself, “I know I’m going to love this book”? That was me reading Sweet & Bitter Magic. We open with Tamsin’s point of view – she’s snarky, sassy, and utterly emotionless. Her charge for magic? Love. As we watched her drain the love a woman feels towards her husband, we find that Tamsin has been cursed for her actions of dark magic. She can’t appreciate colors, beautiful things, or feeling anything towards anyone.
Then we meet Wren. She’s the polar opposite of Tamsin – a sweet, bubbly girl who loves and appreciates everything she sees, even the tendrils and smells of magic that surround everything. But Wren has her struggles too. Wren is left with her father, sick and unable to care for himself after her mother died. She spends her whole life caring for her father, selling eggs in the market and worrying about his needs before her own. Wren has even given up the opportunity to train her magic for her father, settling to stay in the village with him for forever, instead of learning how to control her magic as a source.
Until a magical plague strikes and leaves desolation and chaos in its path. Wren’s father is quickly struck down, forgetting his own daughter in the process. For fear of losing her father, Wren strikes a deal with Tamsin: they will hunt down the dark witch and end this curse, and for Tamsin’s services, Wren will give up her love for her father.
The first interactions between Wren and Tamsin was so small, so minor in passing, that I didn’t even realize how important this moment would be until Wren was banging on Tamsin’s door for theft. Their first real conversation, and all the other ones that happened later, had me giggling and smiling like a fool. Tamsin’s snark and sass pairs so well with Wren’s positive outlook on life. Their dichotomy was just so well done that most of my reactions are based on funny, snarky comments they make towards each other. And while they’re not enemies, they are certainly not friends as they embark on this journey.
Tamsin’s reason for banishment and the clues we get about the reason was also really well done. I love how little clues and hints are dropped over the book instead of just receiving an information dump in a scene/chapter. And while we know that Tamsin was banished and cursed due to her use of black magic, we are slowly fed why she used that magic in the first place and the terror that it caused afterwards.
I really could go on and on about the things I love in this book. We have a sapphic enemies to lovers romance, the one bed trope, and sunny, bubbly character with dark and gloomy love interest. The magic system and world is also really interesting and I wanted to see more of that. The first 70 or so percent of this book takes place in the human world, either in their village or travelling, and the remaining 30% is in the witch realms. I honestly would love a sequel to dive more into the magical realms, especially after the mention of Southern Trolls and the short interaction with sprites.
Overall, I loved this book so much. From watching Tamsin and Wren go from enemies to lovers, to the discussion of death and how to deal with grief, and the amazing magic system that I wish I could have learned more about – this was fantastic.
If you’re wondering what some of my initial (spoiler free) reactions were reading this book, then you’re in luck! Here are some of my thoughts while reading Sweet & Bitter Magic:
- Ohhh having someone pay with love? To feel things? I love this
- Ok, Wren is really interesting. What about her and her mom makes her different?
- Whoa, Tamsin really asked for Wren’s love for her father? Then what’s the point of traveling to save him!?
- Wow she really had to scam her dad to even collect her stuff…
- Ah yes, seal the deal with a kiss!!! The only way contracts should be signed honestly.
- Ohhh I want a pretty magic ribbon! I mean, I don’t want it to choke me, but those seem so cool.
- Tamsin is me on a bad day, and Wren is me on a good day. So different yet they fit together so perfectly.
- Oh my gosh there are trolls in this book!? And evil toad sprites!?
- I love Tamsin’s sass and Wren’s naivety. All of their scenes are so funny.
- WHAT!? Tamsin’s mother is WHO!?
- I CALLED IT. I KNEW IT. THE DIARY, THE MAGIC, I KNEW IT!!!!
- I love that Tamsin is slowly seeing more and more color. First, she sees Wren’s red hair then she notices Wren’s eyes are green and not grey. Could this be love?
- And now they’re sharing a bed! OMG!
- Ohhh a kiss for a kiss it seems…
- OMG THAT ENDING! It’s so sweet, I loved it!
Adrienne Tooley was born and raised in the desert suburbs of Southern California. She grew up in the theater, earning her B.A. in Musical Theatre from Point Park University. She and her wife currently live in New York City where she works in hospitality tech. In addition to writing novels she is also a singer/songwriter and has released several EPs which are available on Spotify & other streaming sites. Her debut novel, SWEET & BITTER MAGIC, will publish from S&S/McElderry in Spring 2021. Her second novel, SOFI AND THE BONE SONG, will release from S&S/McElderry in 2022.
One winner will receive a finished copy of Sweet & Bitter Magic. The giveaway ends on March 15th. Enter here!