Book Review

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie N. Holmberg

Book Title: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet


Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Amazon Link: Click here



Star rating:  gold star gold stargold stargold stargold star   

Disclaimer: I received this free book from NetGalley in exchange for an un-biased review.

Is it wrong to review a book you pretty much knew you were going to love before you started it? I swear by my own sweet tooth that I did approach this book in an un-biased manner. Of course, it fulfilled my expectations. Of course, it did.

The book description on Amazon reads in part, “Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.”

There’s a reason I knew I’d love this book, I’ve read the other books by this author and loved them. Also, I love cake. There is so much cake in this book! Ms. Holmberg has a talent for description, and it shines through in particular when she talks about the treats that Maire makes. Reading this book is delicious. It’s like watching an episode of Unique Sweets. Cakes, cookies, and tarts galore. Maire can infuse them with flavor AND feeling. “I smile and take a bite of the caramel, only just soft enough not to hurt my teeth … the sweetness makes me grin, and I stifle a laugh with my knuckles. Ah, yes. I was feeling silly when I made these.” It’s a delightful idea, silliness instilled in a piece of candy. To be put away, and used on a rainy day. I love it!

I don’t want you to think this book is just a trifle though. Maire’s past is complicated. The book reflects on how desire for something out of our reach can lead us to make oh so many unwise decisions. The consequences for those decisions are inevitable, but kindness, compassion and forgiveness can win the day. One of the things I love about Ms. Holmberg’s books is their positivity. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen, or that bad people don’t exist in her books. However, as I tell my children ad nauseum, we each have a responsibility to work hard to become the better version of ourselves. It’s easy to wallow in our faults, be a Real Housewife, stop trying to be a moral person. But we can do better than that. In her last novel, Followed by Frost, Ms. Holmberg’s main character was a real piece of work. She was cruel and capricious, but watching her change and grow as a person was very satisfying. Character development is strong here in Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet as well.

I really have to stop talking now, because it would be a real shame if I spoiled something by talking too much. Unlike her Paper Magician books, this one is not part of a series, but it is a world all unto itself. It’s a satisfying read and you won’t feel like you’re missing out because there isn’t another book to come. Come for the food, stay for the message. I fully recommend this book. It’s delicious.

Song for this book – Sophie by Bear’s Den





7 thoughts on “Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie N. Holmberg

  1. I read this book too!! Absolutely loved it. Although, I did NOT know what I was getting myself into haha. Not quite as light and… sweet (hehe) as I thought it would be.
    I didn’t realize the other had other books out so, I’m going onto goodreads now to look at them.

    Did you prefer this book or her other ones? Has her writing changed?

    1. Hmmm, did I prefer this book? I’d say no just because I have a soft spot for girls who do magical things with paper. (It’s an anime thing ha!) So I really enjoyed the Paper Magician series a lot. However, I did like this book a lot. I do think her writing has changed in that her powers of description have grown, though she’s always had a talent for it. Her other standalone book is Followed by Frost if you’re not interested in a series. Also from what I hear, her Paper Magician series has been optioned by Disney and I’m really hoping they would make it into a movie!

      1. Oh!!! I’ll have to move it more to the top of my list then! –It seems I already marked it to be read but, I didn’t realize they were by the same author–
        It sounds really really interesting. And the magic concept… haha I’m killing myself over here with anticipation.

        Magical girls and paper? Oh man I must be having a brain fart because I can only think of Rei from Sailor Moon who uses paper. Which other shows are there?

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