Last year, I read Charlie N. Holmberg’s Paper Magicians trilogy, and really enjoyed it – my favorite part by far was the unique magic system. So when I saw that she has a new book out about a baker who injects emotions into baked goods, I was definitely interested.
Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet follows Maire, a baker who can infuse emotions and abilities into her treats. But when she’s kidnapped and sold as a slave, she’s forced to make different kinds of goods. Her captor contracts her out to bake for him, and refuses to let her escape. During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly apparition who refuses to reveal his connection to her. All he says is that she must remember. And slowly, she does. Maire begins to piece together who she really is, and why she remembers nothing other than the last four years. It turns out that Maire is much more than she seems. Her magic goes much deeper than baked goods. And her actions have cosmic consequences.
I liked this book. The story was cute, and had some interesting fairy-tale elements to it. It was somehow reminiscent of The Paper Magician trilogy, though I can’t put my finger on why or how. I enjoyed the writing; Holmberg has a distinct style that lends a lot to her stories. As with her Paper Magician’s trilogy, I thought the magic system was very unique. And, without giving anything away, I loved how it played into the twist.
My mind is like a pan of cake torn apart by eager hands, leaving only the outer crust. It’s strange, this story of mine. A tale that starts in chapter twenty and ends who knows where.
Still, something was off about this book for me. There were some plot holes, and things that didn’t quite make sense (I’m giving the book a pass on this one, because I did receive a proof from the publisher, so they might have been fixed before the book was published). And, because I liked the fairy tale feel, I was totally thrown off by the ending, and I’m not sure the two meshed well. I had a really hard time feeling anything for the characters; I just didn’t care about them as much as I would have liked. As I’ve said before, if I don’t care about the characters, I can’t really care about what happens to them, so I wasn’t entirely invested in the story. I also thought there were some elements of the story that were just a little too much (and one or two characters that were entirely unnecessary).
This book wasn’t my favorite, but it was still enjoyable. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a fun read with a completely unique magic system, or fans of The Paper Magician.
Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was published on June 28 – you can purchase it on Amazon, or read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.