Hello all you lovely magical beings, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sweet & Bitter Magic, by Adrienne Tooley. It published two days ago, on 9th March, and I’m really excited to talk about it today. This is a book that I was thrilled to be approved for the tour on, having been anticipating it since it first started being talked about. I’m in the middle of the tour this time around, and you can find the schedule with links to all the other blogs here.
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..
At first, we are seemingly presented with two quite opposite souls, Tamsin cold and bitter, Wren warm and loving, but the more we get to know them, and they get to know each other, the more it seems they have uniting them than dividing. Even their differences give them unity in time, and as they grow closer, the beauty of those differences is a wonderful example of how we shouldn’t give up on people given our first impressions.
Tamsin seems almost like a physical personification of depression and grief, impacted both by the cursed placed by the Coven and by the loss of her twin, only enhanced by what she is slowly learning from her sister’s diary, which is almost haunting her. Wren has promised the love she has for her father as the price for Tamsin’s assistance as the Plague has already caused him to forget her, and she knows that there is nothing she can do, no one she has left, without him. The sacrifice she is making in this promise is something that Tamsin physically cannot understand because of her curse – and maybe, also, because of her grief.
The book in itself is testament to the strength of women, in their magic and in their beings. The very fact we have a queendom without fuss or noise made of it is a wondrous novelty that needs to become more common. It’s evident in all the locations we encounter in the book that even though there are men, women are considered and treated equally.
I really enjoyed the book, and found the relationship between Wren and Tamsin a
painful slowburn beautiful representation of how love grows in the places it is most needed, and the power that leaning on another person can give.
Normally when I’m listing quotes, I find it really easy to do. Read the book, write some things down. But the difficulty I faced with this book was that the whole thing was just so beautiful, and such an experience, that narrowing down sentences or paragraphs was really hard, in a lovely way. I managed to pick out a few choice moments that were key points in the story without spoiling it, and I hope you enjoy these moments as much as I did.
“It’s taking me longer to recover. I used to just lose consciousness for a few minutes, which was annoying but managable. But now I’m starting to lose hours. Pieces of my days disappear. I’m missing out on my own life. At this rate, I’ll spend more of my existence sleeping than living.”
“Tamsin shook her head wildly. She could not believe she was even entertaining the idea.
“I’m not going”
She couldn’t. Her eyes fell on the diary, still open on her bed. She couldn’t set food Within. Not after what she had done to Marlena. Not after what happened to Amma.”
“Wren has sacrificed so much, not knowing exactly what that meant. But now, surrounded by flowers with colours she had never learned to name, watching people with clothes cut from fabrics she’d never touched, hearing voices with accents she could not place – a reminder of so many cities she still did not know – Wren again felt something dark rear its ugly head. That evil, suffocating thought that she had made her father sick because she had yearned for more.”
“”We’ll go together.” Wren’s voice was no more than a whisper, her face guarded but hopeful. “Into the Wood.”
She offered a hand to Tamsin, who stared at it blankly.
“You’re not alone,” Wren tried again. “You don’t have to be afraid.””
“And so she lay still and did not reply. When Wren did not speak again, Tamsin exhaled softly, letting her mind run circles around itself, letting it wonder and letting it want, until the rise and fall of Wren’s breathing became a lullaby that sent her off to sleep.”
About 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.