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Sweet & Bitter Magic

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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 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..


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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 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..

30 review for Sweet & Bitter Magic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    This was a good debut read. This book was actually on my list of most anticipated reads of 2021. Sapphic-YA-fantasy will get me just about every time. However, I do think my high expectations might have affected my enjoyment a little bit. I didn’t love this like I was hoping to, but I did really like it so I can’t complain too much. This book had a slightly different feel than I was expecting. While the romance started out as enemies to lovers, it didn’t really last that way. And while I expecte This was a good debut read. This book was actually on my list of most anticipated reads of 2021. Sapphic-YA-fantasy will get me just about every time. However, I do think my high expectations might have affected my enjoyment a little bit. I didn’t love this like I was hoping to, but I did really like it so I can’t complain too much. This book had a slightly different feel than I was expecting. While the romance started out as enemies to lovers, it didn’t really last that way. And while I expected the book to be a bit more action based, it felt like a character study more than I expected. There was nothing wrong with these differences so I quickly grew to enjoy the overall feel of the book. I loved how the setting was in a world filled of magical creatures’ right out of fairytales. Wren, a poor village girl, would often talk about people she heard of that could spin straw into gold or that put a curse on an apple. This part was really well done and I was hooked on this magical world. My one problem is that this started so well, but kind of faded as the book went on. I wanted to see more magic beings and/or have more fairytale interaction. It seemed like it was forgotten some as the book went on. I was really happy with both main characters. Wren, who is kind and caring and wants to be adventurous and brave. And then we have Tamsin, our witch, who is definitely a morally grey character. I thought Tamsin especially was really well written. There were times that I had problems with her and flat out didn’t like her, but by the end of the book she was my favorite character. In my mind, a good morally grey character should give you mixed feelings but then absolutely win you over before the book ends. Tooley did a really good job on her main characters. When I like the main characters of a book, chances are that I will enjoy the romance too. I’m happy to say that I thought the romance was super cute and sweet. While this is a very PG rated YA romance, I thought it was heartfelt and I believed in their connection. You could see how the potential of love changed both main characters and it was fun to watch. This was less action and excitement and more character driven than I expected, but I still enjoyed it. The book is very readable with well written main characters that hook you into the story. While this book was a standalone and not part of a series, this world Tooley has created is fun and interesting. I would absolutely read a spin-off if she ever wanted to revisit this world again. An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    rep: bi/pan mc, lesbian mc ARC provided by the publisher. Review also on Reads Rainbow. First word that comes to mind when trying to describe Sweet & Bitter Magic is: beautiful. Because the writing is beautiful, yes; it’s very poetic, it’s charming, it’s like those fairy tales your parents used to read you when you were kid, only so much better. But also because of the kind of story it tells. See, this is a story about love. Not a romance* – a story about love. Literally the only reason for the rep: bi/pan mc, lesbian mc ARC provided by the publisher. Review also on Reads Rainbow. First word that comes to mind when trying to describe Sweet & Bitter Magic is: beautiful. Because the writing is beautiful, yes; it’s very poetic, it’s charming, it’s like those fairy tales your parents used to read you when you were kid, only so much better. But also because of the kind of story it tells. See, this is a story about love. Not a romance* – a story about love. Literally the only reason for the whole plot to take place is that both of the main characters love their family. That love is portrayed in two different ways, and not just because for Tamsin it’s love for twin sister and for Wren it’s love for her father. It differs in the ways the girls approach love, in how they think about it, how they put value on it. How that love dictates their actions. *The romance is also beautiful, obviously. There is nothing simple about those feelings, and Tooley spends a big portion of the novel exploring that. How a love shapes a person, helps them grow, but also how it takes away their choices, how it makes them do things they wouldn’t if it wasn’t for the love. Or not do things they otherwise would… Love is never shown as this Big Magical Spell that will just make your whole life easy in a heartbeat. Which still allows for love to be shown as magic, though. The only reason all of this works is that both Tamsin & Wren are outstanding characters, in term of depth and development, growth. It’s not a stretch at all to say this is a character driven novel (which explains why I like it so much, probably). And it’s executed perfectly in every single way. If you want “strong female characters”, you should read this book. And a quick note: another cool thing about Sweet & Bitter Magic – and this is something I always talk about when I find it in a book – is the total lack of homophobia in this made-up world. It’s not hitting you over the head with some preaching or whatever, it’s subtle. It’s in a throwaway line about a baker and her wife that no one comments on, in the way no one objects to same-sex relationships. It makes you feel like it’s a safe space. A beautiful space. All in all, if you’re a fan of enchanting writing, of character driven fantasy novels, of strong-minded, beautiful, loving female characters, if you want a book to awaken only warm feelings in your heart – read Sweet & Bitter Magic.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    March Owlcrate Unboxing. Click under the SPOILER to see the stuff. 😳 (view spoiler)[1. We have this cute little Springtime Tumbler Mug. This one has s literary quote by Sylvia Plath. It’s super cute but I told my mom if she doesn’t want it to give it away. 2. The pin of the month that I will miss. 3. Next is a roll-on perfume inspired by The Year of the Witching. I’m giving this away too 4. We have a little ceramic tea bag rest inspired by Practical Magic 5. We have a gorgeous Bookmark Holder ins March Owlcrate Unboxing. Click under the SPOILER to see the stuff. 😳 (view spoiler)[1. We have this cute little Springtime Tumbler Mug. This one has s literary quote by Sylvia Plath. It’s super cute but I told my mom if she doesn’t want it to give it away. 2. The pin of the month that I will miss. 3. Next is a roll-on perfume inspired by The Year of the Witching. I’m giving this away too 4. We have a little ceramic tea bag rest inspired by Practical Magic 5. We have a gorgeous Bookmark Holder inspired by The Discovery of Witches. 6. We have an awesome little sketch book. 7. And finally the beautiful edition of the book Happy Reading! (hide spoiler)] Well, once again I’m pissed that I don’t like another book with a beautiful cover and sprayed edges! When I first started reading the book, I actually loved it. I was excited thinking this book would be going on my bookshelf. Sigh...... the book ended up being very boring for me. Why 😫😫😫 I’ve looked through pages of reviews and it’s one of those you either love or you don’t. Either way, I wished I had loved it and I’m glad if you did 😘 Mel 🖤🐺🐶🐾

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lucie V.

    ✅ Gorgeous cover ✅ Magic ✅ Queer romance 🆗 Character development 🆗 Plot development 🆗 World building ❌ Very ordinary villain I'm disappointed, to be honest. 😔 The summary of this book was so promising (and the cover is so pretty)! A love story between a bitter, cursed witch that can't love, and a girl that loves too much and a quest to defeat a villain, sounded amazing. Everything that's promised is in the story, but not everything is well executed. The plot is fine, it focuses mainly on Tamsin and ✅ Gorgeous cover ✅ Magic ✅ Queer romance 🆗 Character development 🆗 Plot development 🆗 World building ❌ Very ordinary villain I'm disappointed, to be honest. 😔 The summary of this book was so promising (and the cover is so pretty)! A love story between a bitter, cursed witch that can't love, and a girl that loves too much and a quest to defeat a villain, sounded amazing. Everything that's promised is in the story, but not everything is well executed. The plot is fine, it focuses mainly on Tamsin and Wren as they learn to know each other, and as they discover what they are willing to do and sacrifice for their own well-being. This is a story about love and resentment. Tamsin was cursed when she was 12 years old after using dark magic to try to save her twin's life. Wren is taking care of her father, and can't leave him even though she would like to because he tells her every day how he would die without her. She also has to keep her magic hidden because her father hates magic. As the story progresses, Tamsin realizes that while her intentions were good, the choices she made when she was 12 years old only made things worse. Meanwhile, Wren is torn between loving her father and resenting him for not being able to explore her magic and have her own life. The characters' development was fine, nothing extraordinary, but it was a nice touch. Tamsin and Wren are nice characters, not exceptional, but not awful either. I was hoping for more depth and more character development. They are both changed at the end of their adventure, but I didn't see much of the development. It just happened, it was told, but not shown. The promised romance between them also felt weird. I was excited to read this love story with a character that can't love, but again, the execution was not the best. The villain of the story felt a bit unrealistic, I understand her reasons to be angry and resentful, but it seemed a little extreme?! I honestly wasn't convinced, and I wasn't satisfied either with the big confrontation. I can't really say more without spoiling though... Overall, this book is fine, the characters, plot, and execution are fine, but I am a little disappointed. I was hoping for more, but I still enjoyed reading Sweet & Bitter Magic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ale ♡

    I'm here for the gay witches, yes I'M SO EXCITED, YES AND THAT COVER? UGH, I LOVE IT!!! I'm here for the gay witches, yes I'M SO EXCITED, YES AND THAT COVER? UGH, I LOVE IT!!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    birdie

    i feel like adrienne tooley just looked at a list of things birdie wants to see in a book and said “yes, let’s do all of the above.” this book hit me in all the good ways and despite being one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, it completely lived up to my enormously high expectations. i also had the honour to INTERVIEW the author...it was a dream come true, honestly! you can read it here! this is a story about love in every sense of the world and it just, like i said, touched me in all the i feel like adrienne tooley just looked at a list of things birdie wants to see in a book and said “yes, let’s do all of the above.” this book hit me in all the good ways and despite being one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, it completely lived up to my enormously high expectations. i also had the honour to INTERVIEW the author...it was a dream come true, honestly! you can read it here! this is a story about love in every sense of the world and it just, like i said, touched me in all the right places. this book left me full of hope and so much joy and i'm just bursting with feelings. i'm an absolute mess (but at least i'm a gay mess, i guess)! no words to describe how much this story means to me. adrienne tooley and her characters have my heart, and i don't even want it back. blog | bookstagram | more

  7. 4 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    read my full review on reads rainbow! Rep: bi mc, lesbian mc read my full review on reads rainbow! Rep: bi mc, lesbian mc

  8. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Just finished my March OwlCrate Unboxing & Review Video ! Absolutely adored this one!! For a full review, check out the video! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads Just finished my March OwlCrate Unboxing & Review Video ! Absolutely adored this one!! For a full review, check out the video! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    honestly, i'm more disappointed in myself for not liking this- i wanted to like this soooo bad. RTC. honestly, i'm more disappointed in myself for not liking this- i wanted to like this soooo bad. RTC.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Party Poison [Disco Freak Show]

    *slides in* So. I hear this is gay. Sign me up, I am ready. And that cover be lookin real nice.

  11. 5 out of 5

    rin

    "a cursed witch who must steal love from others meets a girl hiding her own dangerous secrets, and the two strike a love bargain with life-or-death consequences" am i dreaming "a cursed witch who must steal love from others meets a girl hiding her own dangerous secrets, and the two strike a love bargain with life-or-death consequences" am i dreaming

  12. 4 out of 5

    aphrodite

    2.5/5 stars just so incredibly meh. I couldn’t stand wren. there was zero tension in the romance. the villain’s motivations were spotty at best, generic & uninteresting at worst. the characters all around, even tamsin who irritated me the least, lacked any sort of depth whatsoever. the world was alright I guess. but still just as surface level as the rest of it. boring. and soooooooo not gay enough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars IMO, def lived up to expectations & I FREAKING LOVED THE HECK OUT OF IT! ______________ SO FREAKING EXCITED FOR THISSSSSSS

  14. 4 out of 5

    book_dragon_not_worm

    Why can't I have a pretty girl to hold hands with, Mum? It'S NoT FaIr!! Why can't I have a pretty girl to hold hands with, Mum? It'S NoT FaIr!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This was nice enough, I think certain plot twists were slightly predictable, however I still enjoyed it and some of the underlining elements in this book were things that were super relatable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    tappkalina

    The cover is so beautiful it made me tear up.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex (The Scribe Owl)

    See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 2.5/5 stars I don't think anyone is more surprised about this rating than I am. And the thing is, it didn't have the elements of a bad book! But when I get so disinterested that I'm skim reading (which never happens!) something is wrong. 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 w See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 2.5/5 stars I don't think anyone is more surprised about this rating than I am. And the thing is, it didn't have the elements of a bad book! But when I get so disinterested that I'm skim reading (which never happens!) something is wrong. 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. I love the synopsis! It promises so many fantastic things, all of which are included, but not executed well. Sure, there's a romance with gasp the one who can't love, but the way everything turned up in the end felt like a bit of a cop-out. And the villain! She was so unrealistic. For the sake of not spoiling, I won't go into detail, but though she had reason to be so resentful and angry it was a little overboard. It was just a lot. The plot was fine, the characters were fine, everything was fine! But for some reason I just don't care. If you loved this book I'm so sorry. Honestly. I understand this review was a little harsh. This kind of disconnect is rare for me, but when it crops up it's impossible for me to enjoy the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    Thank you to the publisher for sending an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. "Love is not something to be taken lightly." I was thrilled when I received an arc from the publisher since this is a highly anticipated book and I see so many people talking about it! Although it wasn't as "amazing" as I'd hope, it was still a good story. There wasn't as much action in the book as I was expecting after reading the synopsis and a lot of the magic was talked about more than acted out. Thank you to the publisher for sending an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. "Love is not something to be taken lightly." I was thrilled when I received an arc from the publisher since this is a highly anticipated book and I see so many people talking about it! Although it wasn't as "amazing" as I'd hope, it was still a good story. There wasn't as much action in the book as I was expecting after reading the synopsis and a lot of the magic was talked about more than acted out. I found myself waiting for that big "BANG" of a moment but it didn't exactly come. The plot twist was a bit of a surprise and I quite enjoyed it. The romance in this book was beautiful. A very slow burn where both girls grew closer and bonded over their inner battles and learned to heal with each other. Acceptance was also a major part of their relationship was so beautiful to read. There were plenty of almost kisses and who doesn't love that right? It makes the actual kiss all the more perfect! If you're a fan of lgbtq characters, slow burn romances and unique magic then this is the book for you! 3.5/5 ✰’s

  19. 5 out of 5

    In3jGhafa

    ⭐⭐⭐/5 “Living with the feeling that the world was on fire, Wren now knew, was nothing compared to watching it burn” ― Adrienne Tooley, Sweet & Bitter Magic Characters: The characters were just okay. I wish they'd have more of a character arc/ character growth. I didn't like how the author kept emphasizing how KiNdHeArTeD and oPeN Wren was by collecting flowers and talking to birds. It just wasn't necessary and was kind of annoying and repetitive. Relationships: I would've liked to see more. Honestly, ⭐⭐⭐/5 “Living with the feeling that the world was on fire, Wren now knew, was nothing compared to watching it burn” ― Adrienne Tooley, Sweet & Bitter Magic Characters: The characters were just okay. I wish they'd have more of a character arc/ character growth. I didn't like how the author kept emphasizing how KiNdHeArTeD and oPeN Wren was by collecting flowers and talking to birds. It just wasn't necessary and was kind of annoying and repetitive. Relationships: I would've liked to see more. Honestly, those are my thoughts for the whole book but especially for the ship. There wasn't much fighting and it didn't feel too much like an ENEMIES to lovers. Worldbuilding: I wish the author would add more worldbuilding in this book because it just felt a little dry. I would've loved to see more of the witch world because it had so much potential. Sadly, we only spent a little bit of time there before we moved on. Plot: The plot was also pretty dry though it sounded so cool in the book's description. There was a lot of traveling, and then the climax and end felt unsatisfactory. So overall, this is a 3/5 stars. Sorry for this really dry and short review, but this is basically encompassing how dry the book was. It had so much potential with that beautiful cover and amazing description...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Grüffeline

    Living with the feeling that the world was on fire, Wren now knew, was nothing compared to seeing it burn. This started off amazing and I fully expected to go for at least four stars. You started to get to know Wren and Tamsin individually, saw them meet and strike their bargain. The pacing was kinda slow but that was perfect for the story and everything around it. I had a vivid picture in mind the whole time and I was rooting for both of the main characters to find happiness. Until the point Living with the feeling that the world was on fire, Wren now knew, was nothing compared to seeing it burn. This started off amazing and I fully expected to go for at least four stars. You started to get to know Wren and Tamsin individually, saw them meet and strike their bargain. The pacing was kinda slow but that was perfect for the story and everything around it. I had a vivid picture in mind the whole time and I was rooting for both of the main characters to find happiness. Until the point where everything changed. The atmosphere, the chemistry of the characters... The pacing picked up to a point where I felt completely rushed through the whole thing right until the end. (view spoiler)[With the exception of the there's only one bed trope. (hide spoiler)] Which left me wanting more. I felt like this was supposed to be more than this standlone and somewhere during this journey someone changed their mind and everything was brought to the end really quickly with a solution that felt a little too conveniant. I realise that this sounds like I didn't like this at all. That is not the case, I really like the world and Tamsin and Wren were both amazing, I just wanted more. More time to get to know them, more time for everything to unfold, more time to just discover everything. I enjoyed all those fairy tale references but (I just have to mention it because some readers might want to avoid these kinds of books) it was kinda hard reading about a plague during these times. And I especially appreciated the author's take on the relationship which I'm putting in spoiler tags: (view spoiler)[They get together but it doesn't have this "until death do us part" vibe. It's clearly stated that they don't know what the future will bring but that today they're in love and they'll be together and live in the moment of the feelings without saying it has to last. I really liked that angle! (hide spoiler)]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Shuttleworth

    So, Wren and Tamsin are my favourite couple IN THE WORLD there was just something so pure about both of them, and I am SO WEAK for the grumpy/darling dynamic that they had going on. This book was magic. I inhaled it. It was so much fun to read, so sweet to watch these girls work together and fall for each other enemies-to-lovers style, and the banter between them was so effing funny. Topping it all off were some truly touching scenes delving into the complications of family and duty and guilt. A So, Wren and Tamsin are my favourite couple IN THE WORLD there was just something so pure about both of them, and I am SO WEAK for the grumpy/darling dynamic that they had going on. This book was magic. I inhaled it. It was so much fun to read, so sweet to watch these girls work together and fall for each other enemies-to-lovers style, and the banter between them was so effing funny. Topping it all off were some truly touching scenes delving into the complications of family and duty and guilt. A+. I loved this from beginning to end Also: witches Enough said

  22. 4 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    This is a high fantasy story with big, world-ending stakes–but more importantly, it’s a slow burn sapphic romance. Tamsin and Wren have a perfect grouchy one/sunshine one dynamic. Tamsin is jaded, haunted by her past, and literally incapable of love or positive emotion. Wren is bubbly, naïve, and distractible; she sees magic everywhere. They seem like opposites–but in reality, they have most of the same motivations. Tamsin has a martyr complex; Wren is self-sacrificial to a fault. While there is This is a high fantasy story with big, world-ending stakes–but more importantly, it’s a slow burn sapphic romance. Tamsin and Wren have a perfect grouchy one/sunshine one dynamic. Tamsin is jaded, haunted by her past, and literally incapable of love or positive emotion. Wren is bubbly, naïve, and distractible; she sees magic everywhere. They seem like opposites–but in reality, they have most of the same motivations. Tamsin has a martyr complex; Wren is self-sacrificial to a fault. While there is a high fantasy plot here, including magical duels, family secrets, and a world in the balance, it becomes obvious that the heart of this story is the romance between Wren and Tamsin. Wren is frustrated to find herself falling for someone who a) is incapable of loving her back, b) is going to take her love for her father from her as soon as Tamsin completes her end of the deal, and c) is kind of a jerk to her. (view spoiler)[ I loved the element of Tamsin beginning to see flashes of color in Wren. Never has “Your hair is red” been such a swoon-worthy statement. (hide spoiler)] In addition to the grumpy one/sunshine one trope, there’s also a “there’s only one bed” moment! Classic. I know a lot of people will also appreciate that this is set in a world without homophobia. This is an absorbing read that I can’t wait to see people fall in love with. Full review at the Lesbrary.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kobe

    4⭐️ sapphic witches and a compelling story about love with a writing style that absolutely blew me away. the ending was no doubt the best part for me, especially as each character came to terms with their feelings in such a beautiful way. the plot did need a bit of development, and i wish there was more room for the magic system in the book. nevertheless, i absolutely loved this and i would highly recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Ruth (I need all the book boyfriends please)

    Too much love can be dangerous, but too little love can be a curse. I'd like to start by saying this book has a great map! If you know how I feel about maps then you know how important this is imo. Tamsin is a witch and will cast spells for the citizens of her village for a very particular price: love. More specifically, the love that person feels for another. She does this because of a curse that took her ability to love, and Tamsin needs and desires to simply FEEL again. Wren is the opposite of Too much love can be dangerous, but too little love can be a curse. I'd like to start by saying this book has a great map! If you know how I feel about maps then you know how important this is imo. Tamsin is a witch and will cast spells for the citizens of her village for a very particular price: love. More specifically, the love that person feels for another. She does this because of a curse that took her ability to love, and Tamsin needs and desires to simply FEEL again. Wren is the opposite of Tamsin in so many ways. She is vibrant and full of feelings and possibly a little naive. She is also a Source which means she is full of magic that can supplement a witch's own power. When a plague comes, a sickness that can steal a soul and make the whole world volatile and vicious, everything starts changing for Tamsin and Wren. They begin to work together and start on a journey to the Witchlands to help stop this black magic. This story is exciting, twisty and turny, and even full of not just magic but references to classic fairytales that make this book even more fun. I adored the light romance and the interesting conversations between Wren and Tamsin that included some funny comments. Overall, an enjoyable read that I would definitely recommend!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chiara | _ckarys

    Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars SWEET & BITTER MAGIC is the proof that sometimes the right book finds you at the right time, and even the things that would normally bother you end up not mattering. I was very excited to read this book from the moment I saw its amazing cover and read the synopsis. Witches and sapphic romances are both things I am actively trying to read more, so I was thrilled to have them both in the same book. The writing and setting of the book completely won me over. I loved the wor Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars SWEET & BITTER MAGIC is the proof that sometimes the right book finds you at the right time, and even the things that would normally bother you end up not mattering. I was very excited to read this book from the moment I saw its amazing cover and read the synopsis. Witches and sapphic romances are both things I am actively trying to read more, so I was thrilled to have them both in the same book. The writing and setting of the book completely won me over. I loved the world-building and the magic, so much so that I really wish this wasn’t a standalone, and I completely adored Tamsin and Wren, the two protagonists. The author took her time in the beginning setting up the story and developing these two very different women. Tamsin is by far the darkest of the two, and also my favorite. The nature of her curse and the consequences it has on her life were fascinating to read and I just felt really drawn to her. Wren, however, was no less captivating. She was probably the more relatable of the two in a lot of ways and I really resonated with her kindness and her protectiveness of her family. Now put these two incredible women together, and I was really hooked on their interactions! The middle of the book was, unfortunately, less thrilling. I’m not the biggest fan of long sections of characters traveling unless something important happens during those pages, and unfortunately I don’t feel this was the case here. We didn’t get to see Tamsin and Wren interacting as much as I would have wanted and we could have gotten more of the magic and the curse in those pages. Even so, I did like the interactions between Wren and Tamsin that we did have, and the plot and resolution were overall well developed and satisfying in the bigger picture. Normally I might have given this book 3 stars, but I read it with the enjoyment of a 4 star read. I found this book in a time where I needed a quick read with more down time and great character development. It may not have been the most engaging or complicated read, but I found it exactly when I needed it. So I’m settling my rating somewhere in the middle. I really recommend Sweet & Bitter Magic if you like books with witches and are looking for a quick, in-between read with a cute romance.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    First things first, I NEED more queer witch stories in my life. This book was the warm and fuzzy feelings that I needed amidst all of this chaos. Sweet & Bitter Magic is a dual POV narrative that follows Tamsin and Wren. Tamsin is a banished witch who has been cursed with the inability to care and love after getting caught using forbidden dark magic to try to save her dying twin sister. Since she can’t feel love…she deals in it. Literally. Needless to say, Tamsin literally embodies a grumpy old First things first, I NEED more queer witch stories in my life. This book was the warm and fuzzy feelings that I needed amidst all of this chaos. Sweet & Bitter Magic is a dual POV narrative that follows Tamsin and Wren. Tamsin is a banished witch who has been cursed with the inability to care and love after getting caught using forbidden dark magic to try to save her dying twin sister. Since she can’t feel love…she deals in it. Literally. Needless to say, Tamsin literally embodies a grumpy old hag and is the antithesis to Wren. Wren is a source…meaning that she is literally compromised of magic. She can see, taste, and smell magic, but she doesn’t wield it. Where Tamsin is all dark and miserable, Wren is loving and sees the beauty in all of nature. Having this pair come together on an adventure to capture the dark witch responsible for a plague ravaging the humans was absolutely hysterical. I love how polarizing their personalities and outlooks were. And yet, you just knew that this was going to be the messy queer enemies to lovers romance, which I was 100% here for. I really loved the way the world was laid out in this because it was easy to navigate and visualize. It was very reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in that you have the humans on one side separated by the Woods that protect Coven (aka Witchlands if you’re Wren). One thing that I wanted to scream while Tamsin and Wren were on their trek was ”Wren, watch where you are walking so you don’t keep crashing into Tamsin”. People crashing into me is a huge pet peeve, so I visibly bristled every time that Wren did it. There were definitely some pleasant plot twists in this one that I didn’t see coming. I thought that the pacing was steady throughout, and I was thoroughly engaged. The only real issue that I had with the book is that I wish the Academy life was a little more flushed out because I definitely didn’t grasp the hierarchy of the professors, which left me confused at a certain point. Overall, this was a fun and original story with some pretty great queer witches. I can’t wait to see what Tooley comes up with next! Thank you to Simon Teen for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Starr ❇✌❇

    3.5 As a magical plague sweeps the land, stealing the infected's memories before breaking their bodies, a powerful but disgraced witch and a sheltered and dutiful daughter must band together. Tasmin may be a powerful witch, but she was banished and cursed to never again feel love, only ever saddled with guilt and sadness. Wren just wants to save her father, a task she's devoted her entire life to- and one she's willing to give anything for, even the love for her father itself. I have mixed feeling 3.5 As a magical plague sweeps the land, stealing the infected's memories before breaking their bodies, a powerful but disgraced witch and a sheltered and dutiful daughter must band together. Tasmin may be a powerful witch, but she was banished and cursed to never again feel love, only ever saddled with guilt and sadness. Wren just wants to save her father, a task she's devoted her entire life to- and one she's willing to give anything for, even the love for her father itself. I have mixed feelings about this book! It's one of those stories that's really easy to read in like one sitting, and a pretty fun story conceptually, but I didn't buy a lot of it. I do like the concept a lot- being cursed not to love, so bartering for other people's love. It's a very fairy tale idea, so that it feels both unique and innate to the human experience, like something you'd hear as a bedtime story. And I like the idea of Wren, who is also very much a fairy tale protagonist as the girl who's hidden her magic for her father and cared for him in his weakness. There's a great set up here for a classic protagonist and antagonist at odds sort of story, and it's nice that it never goes there. The whole situation with Wren's dad is interesting in itself. There's an implication that the reason why he's in such a bad state is directly tied to that fact that Wren is more than willing to sweep in and do everything for him, and he just leans on her and lets her, which I thought was really great. Wren's done everything for him and in the end he's just so used to being taken care of by his daughter that he has no reason to step up and be her father. I do wish it had taken up a little more space in the story, but the subtlety doesn't kill it for me. Finally, I loved the idea of the diary excerpts. This one I have more issues with, but as a concept I thought it was great. It's nice to find out all this new context alongside with Tamsin, and the mix of what she knows and what she doesn't lies it out in a really interesting way where you feel fully invested. However, the issue is that instead of it being used to give context and then working for them, we get context both from the diary and from Tamsin, and so everything gets repeated over and over again which is tiring and kills the tension. I felt the same way about Wren's motivations. Her need to have her sacrifices seen and appreciated is very human. She worries that if no one remembered the single thing she did with her life then it'll be like she never did anything or existed at all. It's something that strikes a chord with a lot of people's experiences, I'm sure, and worrying about the imprint you leave behind is sort of universal- but she brings it up so often that she starts sounding whiny and kind of self obsessed by the midway point. It goes from a normal worrying to it feeling like she only made those sacrifices to be seen as a martyr, which made me care about her less and less. The characters in general are hard for me to fully like. While both the main characters have compelling backgrounds and they're interesting to see on page, neither of them felt all that solid. Wren being annoying is part of that, but it's also her waffling between being sheltered and unsure and being super brazen out of nowhere just to become a foil to Tamsin. And Tamsin, who is characterized by her inability to "feel" (at least anything positive), to the point where she can't taste things, is incredibly emotional in ways that feel like the curse would have done something about. So it's hard to buy into the curse when the strength of it seems to vary depending on what the author wants. The romance, too, is cute, but wasn't believable to me. The characters being stronger might have helped with that, but mostly it just felt like the romance happened solely because a romance had to happen, not because of pacing or chemistry or the individual characters. I was looking forward to tension that just never showed up. Still, this is a quick read an fairly enjoyable one! Just don't expect much depth.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    I feel like this was a solid fantasy debut. There were things that I liked and things that bothered me. But overall, it was okay. Sweet & Bitter Magic is the tale of two girls - Tasmin, a witch who's been cursed and cannot feel, and Wren, a hidden magical source who's love for her father leads her to making a deal with a witch. The two set out on a journey to save the land from the dark magic spreading and during the course of travels the two start semi-bonding. The characters were interesting on I feel like this was a solid fantasy debut. There were things that I liked and things that bothered me. But overall, it was okay. Sweet & Bitter Magic is the tale of two girls - Tasmin, a witch who's been cursed and cannot feel, and Wren, a hidden magical source who's love for her father leads her to making a deal with a witch. The two set out on a journey to save the land from the dark magic spreading and during the course of travels the two start semi-bonding. The characters were interesting ones for me because in the beginning I did not like Tasmin - I found her to be very unlikeable and it was hard to root for her to get anything because she just seemed like a selfish person and I couldn't get behind that. Then on the other hand there was Wren, this girl who was hiding who she was because she wanted to care for her ailing father. As the book went on, my feelings switched and I began to become very annoyed with Wren and started understanding Tasmin. But honestly, by the end, I was kind of over both of them. The beginning of this book was the best part. Then the pacing issues started and their journey just felt LONG. While there were tidbits of information from the past that I really liked, most of it was them trekking through the mountains arguing. I guess you could say that their relationship was a slow burn but even though we had all the time in the world for them to fall in love, I still didn't really see it and it kind of came out of nowhere when they said it. Then there was the ending. I was very disappointed in the ending. I'm sorry but (view spoiler)[ love saved everything (hide spoiler)] ? Everything just wrapped up way to prettily. I needed more conflict, I needed more feels. It just didn't really hit. I did like the writing style so I would be interested in checking out other books from the author. The ratings seem to be very split on this book so I would just say, if it sounds like your cup of tea, give it a shot.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bruna ♛

    ✯ [3/5] ✯ First off I want to thank Rosana (@tudoquemotiva on Instagram) for her giveways that made me win this one, go follow her if you like funkos and books! So I loved the characters and kept reading because of the new devolpments we got from Tamsin and Wren as the story went. Also I liked the main couple, and all the tropes we got, cause It is hard to see such a cool ONE BED ONLY in a sapphic book so thank you Adrienne. What bothered me was the rhythm of the story, that end up being too slow i ✯ [3/5] ✯ First off I want to thank Rosana (@tudoquemotiva on Instagram) for her giveways that made me win this one, go follow her if you like funkos and books! So I loved the characters and kept reading because of the new devolpments we got from Tamsin and Wren as the story went. Also I liked the main couple, and all the tropes we got, cause It is hard to see such a cool ONE BED ONLY in a sapphic book so thank you Adrienne. What bothered me was the rhythm of the story, that end up being too slow in the start and really fast in the ending, I liked the conclusion but I think It would have been better if we could've a little more time knowing who the villain was and more angst hahahaha. But I still think is an amazing witch book and you guys should read it if seems like the kinda of story you guys will like!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Angriest three stars I've given in a while, HOW DARE YOU. A little bit of context, I have been looking for queer witches in a fairy tale fantasy world for AGES. And for the first... I don't know, 60% or so it DELIVERED. I genuinely thought I was going to give it AT LEAST four stars. Then they got to the witch lands, the romance came out of nowhere, the book rushed to the ending and it just went downhill. The climax felt rushed and anti climactic and the main characters were suddenly in love thoug Angriest three stars I've given in a while, HOW DARE YOU. A little bit of context, I have been looking for queer witches in a fairy tale fantasy world for AGES. And for the first... I don't know, 60% or so it DELIVERED. I genuinely thought I was going to give it AT LEAST four stars. Then they got to the witch lands, the romance came out of nowhere, the book rushed to the ending and it just went downhill. The climax felt rushed and anti climactic and the main characters were suddenly in love though ONE OF THEM LITERALLY CANNOT FEEL POSSITIVE EMOTIONS AT ALL BUT SOMEHOW THEY STILL HAD A BULLSHIT EXCUSE (THAT MADE NO SENSE) SO SHE COULD START FEELING AND I HATED IT. I wanted this book to be longer so it had time to breathe, because it felt disjointed and completely wasted all the potential it had. In my opinion it could have perfectly been a series or at least longer The Priory of the Orange Tree style. With the very slow burn romance. Yes. I'm a sucker for slow burn. I know the author may have had a completely different objective, but it was JUST THERE. The magic school, the fairy tale world, the impossible stakes, the world was literally in ruin and we SAW it. But no, we just had a lovey dovey climax with high looking, but quickly resolved, stakes and tada! We're done! Thank you for coming!

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