Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg | Rating: ★★☆☆☆
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Net Galley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
This latest release by Charlie N. Holmberg is another novel I was really, really, really looking forward to recently. Because, hello? Charlie N. Holmberg, anyone? Do I have to even explain? Not only is the cover art a real stunner, but the plot was intriguing enough on its own. But the problem with Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was that it felt like nothing happened a good chunk of the novel--even when something was happening. It just... felt sloppy and not at all what I was expecting.
There were a few pros to it, though, and this was the only saving grace in the novel. I was very intrigued, and horrified, by the way things went down. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet has a sort of magical vibe to it that is unique and would translate nicely on screen, I think, and perhaps would have been better in that way. If we had to see it on screen, I feel like the world Holmberg built would have been even more whimsical and dark and intriguing.
Because, even its flaws, this is something that is very important when reading it. It will remind readers of a fairytale in its darkest, most magical and bizarre way and the prose is just stunning, in spite of its flaws. There's something chilling and different in it that may just be your new obsession. Holmberg tells us a story that is iffy at best and it's a conflict with the otherwise rich talent in its tone.
That being said, our leading character was an absolute angel and had a lot that could be built on. She has some power to her that was very intriguing and dark and fascinating that I wish there was a different way it had been explored; she had so much more to say than what was published, in my opinion. I think that it had other promises left between the lines and that frustrated me a bit. I liked how gentle she seemed compared to the bad in the novel and what happened to her.
Overall, it's neither the best nor worst novel this year. I would have given it a higher rating if I hadn't felt like there was so much wasted potential in it. But don't let this dampen your mood and pick up a copy because it's still worth a shot.