Music runs in Sofi’s blood. Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art. Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges. Almost like magic. The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy. As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.
I really liked Sweet And Bitter Magic, and you only have to whisper “queer witches” and I am there and ready to scream. So, I was ready to read this book before I even knew much about it! Though, learning that it was about the idea of having to suffer for art, and a world where music can only be played by a select few, only made more and more eager to read it. Trigger warnings: emotional abuse, grief, self-harm
This book hit me like a ton of bricks, and every time I think of it I kinda want to sob. It’s a book I did not know that I needed. But I needed it. I have a lot of feelings about it, but a big one is gratitude that it exists.
A lot of my love for this book comes from deeply personal reasons. It resembles a time in my life that I always thought I would look back on as something prickly and uncomfortable. But to be able to reflect on it, through the lens of a fantasy, was such a gift. To be able to fall in love with Sofi, to experience what she does alongside her, it was, just something incredible. It felt like a balm to a piece of me that has been raw for a very long time.
The way that it depicts the idea of suffering, of pain, of pushing and pushing and pushing, felt like it was done with such a kindness. It was a story of healing, and this entire aspect felt like it was done with care and understanding to everybody who has ever felt the way that Sofi has. It was understanding and love and empathy all wrapped into one book.
And then on top of that, I just really freaking loved the book in general.
It is so, so gorgeously written. The whole book felt like music seeped off the page, rising and flowing and creating something completely beautiful. The scenery, the songs, the magic, just utterly stunning.
The world, oh gosh, the world was so freaking cool. The magic, the music, the political system. It felt very contained, and yet very vast as well. Plus, it was just downright interesting. Only one person has the right to compose and perform music in public. A gate that cuts this country off from the rest of the world. A country that is stuck in a years long winter. It’s so, so well done.
And the plot!!! My jaw dropped multiple times, because WOW. Everything fits, falling into place and creating a picture that I was shocked to see. I loved how everything came together, because wow it is so good.
The characters, oh I adore them. Sofi, I love her so much. And the way she was written, and the way this book was written in general, was amazing. I saw the world through her eyes, I got her, I got what she was feeling, and I was surprised at certain things because Sofi’s view was so strong. It was brilliant. And then there’s Lara and Jakko and the Musiks who don’t suck and Marie and I want to give them all a hug. The characters were so strong and I cared for them so much.
And this book is sapphic. Like, on top of everything else amazing about it, it’s also so gay. And it’s clueless sapphics falling for each other while trying not to fall for each other, which is freaking amazing!!!
Yes, I really, really adored this book. It was so gorgeously written, and so wonderfully crafted. It’s gay and has music and magic, and it’s just, a really incredible book.