Book Reviews

Review: Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva

After My Fate According to the Butterfly, Villanueve has been an author I have been watching. Sugar and Spite asks questions about friendship and magic. Just because we have power, doesn’t mean we should use that power. It hit just the spot for my middle grade reads in March! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Can a bully be defeated by a magical love potion?

Jolina can’t take Claudine’s bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she’s still in-training to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.

And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine’s hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn’t just stop bullying Jolina — now she wants to be Jolina’s BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.

But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person’s ability to love — or hate — will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm…


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: pet death

Sugar and Spite is a charming and precious story about friendship, forgiveness, and ethics. Stressing the importance of magical ethics, Jolina’s family tells her that magic has to be consensual. That it’s a power, a force, that must be used responsibly. So what happens when Claudine’s bullying hits a new high? Sugar and Spite is a story about mistakes. About misunderstanding, lashing out when we feel insecure and alone, about forgiveness and sacrifice.

There’s a balance about not letting the bullying control us and also understanding that when people are insecure they tend to lash out. How sometimes we get off on the wrong foot and just need a moment to step back and see our similarities. How we can want to help our family, but it matters how we do that. The ways we use our powers, relationships, and words. What is the line between love and fear? Real and pretend?

Sugar and Spite is a heart warming middle grade that explores accountability, sacrifice, and forgiveness. It’s a favorite I have to add to my shelf. Find Sugar and Spite on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite middle grade book?

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