Review of Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
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 with 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. 4 stars.
An ARC was given to me for an honest review.