Book Reviews

Review: Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Okay I need all the queer enemies to something brewing right now ok? Also if you compare a book to Girls of Paper and Fire you will always get me. To say I was excited for Sweet & Bitter Magic is an understatement. And I enjoyed this queer fantasy that speaks to being vulnerable. Keep reading this book review if you want to find out my full thoughts.


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..


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

Sapphic fantasy is the mood I want for 2021. Sweet & Bitter Magic is a dual POV which examines our responsibilities. Wren is just the sweetest. She’s caring and compassionate, selfless, and reminds me a bit of Snow White. But at the same time, she has this growing ambition, this desire to be truly free, to explore which felt so relatable. Whereas Tamsin is this ball of anger which hides an extremely hurt and vulnerable soft side. Can you tell I’m hooked??

Sweet & Bitter Magic has such a strong romance story line. It’s one of my favorite elements, even though I’ve recently been in a fantasy romance rut! But it also asks questions about the balance and ethics of magic. When we are fixated on power and we allow ourselves to disrupt the balance, what kind of future does that hold? Connected to this struggle, is Tamsin’s relationship, and the guilt, connected to her sister. Sister stories are a sweet spot for me, and while it’s only a side story here, I loved it.

We can be mislead by love. Walking into sacrifices that leave us suffocating. Where protections are just projections of our own fears. Love is not manipulation or exploitation. But at the end of the day, we need to soften our heart. To let compassion in. While, at the same time, it’s measured with a knowledge when we are being used. Pain can cause us to curl up, to want to protect ourselves with hardness. Healing and forgiveness take time and being hurt is a risk we have to take when we love.

I really enjoyed this emotional and precious queer fantasy. And if anything I’ve said appeals to you, please read it! Find Sweet & Bitter Magic on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite queer fantasy?

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