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..
Sweet & Bitter Magic gives us exactly what the title foretold. This magical story is full of sweet moments and bitter decisions that leave you longing for more of this story and characters. Forcing Tamsin and Wren, two girls from completely different worlds, to go on a harrowing journey together is the sapphic story I didn’t know I needed. Tamsin is cold and calculating, while Wren is hopeful with a heart full of kindness. The girls couldn’t be more of a foil to one another and Tooley definitely knows how to play these two girls strengths and weaknesses against each other to make for an interesting read.
Adrienne Tooley’s worldbuilding was on point. Upon reading the first couple of chapters, Tooley gives us information about the world little by little until you have a comprehensive understanding of the world that Tamsin and Wren are living in and what is at stake with their quest that they are currently on. There are a few flashback moments in this story, but they melt perfectly into the narrative itself so that the transitions are not choppy whatsoever. Tooley expertly uses these flashbacks to show us character development as well as important facts about the girls past without it feeling info dumpy.
Overall, reading this novel truly felt like taking a breath of fresh air. The story itself was entertaining, heartbreaking, and fantastical. The pacing was phenomenal and it prevented me from putting the novel down on multiple occasions. And you truly do fall in love with Tamsin and Wren while you are reading. I wanted the two girls to win this awful adventure that they had been thrown into and I rooted for them so hard. I also really appreciate how this novel portrayed a sapphic romance. It felt very natural and it made me love the story even more than I already had. Sweet & Bitter Magic is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the whole story and I really wish I could forget it all and read it all over again.
Meet the Author
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.
Meet the Cover Artist
I’m a freelance illustrator based in Sydney, Australia. I like to play with themes of Natural Supernaturalism in my work, taking inspiration from imagery that evokes a sense of mystery, nostalgia and reflection. As an artist, my tools of the trade consist of a MacBook Pro, a Wacom Intuos pro tablet, and a Mobile Studio pro. More often than not, you’ll find me hunched at my desk, working on a book cover or two, drinking tea, and listening to a good audiobook or soundtrack.
Some of the clients I’ve worked with include: Disney + Lucasfilm Press, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, St. Martin’s Press, ImagineFX Magazine, Qantas, Australian Geographic, AAMI Insurance, and The Millionaires Magician.
My work has also been featured in shows and events for: Light Grey Art Lab, Gallery Nucleus, Adobe and Wacom.
Meet the Cover Designer
I’m a Designer at Simon and Schuster, as well as a freelance illustrator, and author of Doodle Bug Diaries.
My work has been featured in the New York Book Show, Entertainment Weekly and Spine Magazine.
I like stale Oreos and do not like statues anywhere near water. I usually have the Brace Face theme song stuck in my head.
Please contact me at lauraeckes(at)gmail(dot)com for any inquiries!
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