Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links
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 and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley is a Young Adult (YA) Fantasy novel that involves a witch, Tamsin, who is cursed to never love and Wren who is hiding her own version of magic. Tamsin is a powerful witch who is banished from the ruling Coven after performing Dark Magic and is cursed with the inability to love. She can get her feelings back, for a little while, by stealing other people’s love. Wren is a source – a person who is made of magic even though she can’t use it herself. Sources are to report and train with the Coven immediately after they discover their abilities, but Wren refuses in order to care for her sick father and has spent her life hiding her abilities.
A magical dark plague that takes the memories of the people consumes the kingdom, and Wren’s father is its next victim. In order for Wren to save her father, she makes a proposal to Tamsin: help her catch the dark witch who created the plague and Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father. Their journey is filled with danger and as the two girls clash against each other, they may just find what they are both looking for.
Sweet and Bitter Magic takes us on the journey that Tamsin and Wren partake in to get to Within (where the Coven resides) to hunt down the dark witch. This novel is full of mystery, magic, and of course the developing relationship between Wren and Tamsin. The reader gets introduced to more characters from Tamsin’s past, and we get to learn more about why Tamsin was banished, and how she became the cold person she is in the novel. Wren has always put others first – she has always taken care of her father and put her wants and needs second. As she accompanies Tamsin to Within, she begins to feel herself changing, and she comes to the realization that she cannot keep taking care of everyone else, that she also needs to focus on her wants and needs.
Tooley has written a compelling novel about magic and the power of love. She encompasses the guilt and anger that Tamsin feels throughout the novel alongside Wren’s duty to her father, including how she puts everyone above herself. I really enjoyed the journey that both characters went on, both physically and emotionally. By the end of the novel, they were different people than when they first started. The reader grew alongside the characters and began to understand them as they went to find the dark witch.
There were moments that I enjoyed reading this novel, but overall I found it just okay. I wanted to see more of the dynamic between Tamsin and Wren, to me it fell a bit short. I did enjoy how Tamsin could start to love again because Wren was willingly giving her love to Tamsin – that part made me smile. Unfortuantely I felt like both Tamsin and Wren were not fully fleshed-out characters, there was something lacking there and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Overall, it was a good book. If you like witches, mystery, romance, and adventure then this one’s for you!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Cups of Tea:
Tea Pairing: Darjeeling Black Tea
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: March 9, 2021