Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Bittersweet by Marcia Colette

Bittersweet (Bittersweet #1)
by Marcia Colett

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 2, 2011
Source: (ebook)
Age Rating: 14+

Five years have passed since Phaedra has seen her older, estranged brother. She’s hesitant about his return and even more so when he comes bearing a cure for their mother. However, this so-called antidote, having sex with an incubus, comes with a catch that's larger than the statutory rape implications. The incubus who's willing to help the Thornes has unwittingly been followed by beings who call themselves hags. They want to drain the demon dry of his power and don’t care if they threaten Phaedra's desire to have a normal family. She’ll do whatever it takes to protect her loved ones, even if that means trusting her uncontrollable powers won’t kill everyone in the process...including a Child Welfare official who'll decide in thirty days if the Thorne household is safe enough to raise children. 

My Review

  • Plot: The plot is a bit sparse and a lot of the story is caught up with many mundane details that probably don't need to be included. The real story doesn't even begin until around 2/3rds of the way into the book. Phaedra, the main character, has a crazy mother with psychokinetic powers and must live in the attic so she doesn't hurt her children, Phaedra and Nadia, the 6-year-old kid sister. Because these powers are hereditary, Phaedra and her older brother Kurt have them, too, and he returns after 5 years with an incubus, who can curb their out-of-control powers and keep their mother sane. The catch is that Mr. Incubus has to seduce them in order for his powers to work.
  • Characters: Phaedra is a pretty cool teenager to follow around, but she's so feisty that it gets a bit bothersome. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a flawed character. She has such a hard life taking care of her little sister and fending off attacks by her mother when she's insane. Her mother is only sane for three hours at a time because of a very expensive herb called Bittersweet that wears off after a few hours. The expense means it can't be used often. It's interesting to see the extremes in the mother from homicidal maniac to perfectly normal, concerned mother.
  • Writing: The writing is decent but nothing amazing. It could have used more editing and proofreading, since there were quite a few errors. Does have a good YA voice, though.
  • Storytelling: Again, the story starts in the wrong place, although we get a lot of important information in the first 2/3rds of the story. But, not much happens to drive the plot forward until you've read most of the novel. A hag ends up as the main villain character and this is the person causing all the problems, but we know nothing about her until late in the story. What happens a lot that I don't think works is that new elements and characters suddenly pop up long after the novel begins, which feels random and overly-contrived. We are never told why Phaedra's family has their shared ability, so I feel lost. I also am not fond of the ending, as we don't get to see things wrap up, but are told what had happened through a random diary entry. Another writerly device that should have been introduced into the story earlier because it seems too convenient.
  • Overall Quality: It's a pretty good story that has potential, but it lacks good editing to make it high quality. Still, it has some good things going for it, and I generally liked reading it. Phaedra has a convincing YA voice—that being one of the story's strong suits.
  • Favorite Moment/Scene: When Phaedra unwittingly touches the incubus (who looks like a regular man) when he wasn't curbing his powers, and he accidentally seduces her. (How does that happen? I know, right?) It is a pretty intense, although, brief moment.
  • My Score: 3 out of 5 stars. 

*I received this title as a complementary copy in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I do love strong female voices, esp for young readers, and it sounds like this is good for that. Nice review!

  2. Gosh, Cathy. You're reviews are so well-thought out and concise. I barely understood the synopsis, but you'd review made sense of it. Glad you were able to enjoy this a bit.

    1. @Andrea: LOL! I'm glad my reviews make so much sense if that blurb didn't. I kind of felt like a beta-reader while reading this one.

  3. Hmm I don't know if this one is really for me. It doesn't sound like it has much action in it which is usually what I go for in books. And is the whole incubus thing a way of throwing some sexual tension in there because I don't see any romance of anyway...

    1. @Lan: The action comes from the crazy mother, mostly and the incubus thing is really not overdone enough to qualify as sexual tension. I couldn't figure out why it was part of the story, really.

  4. Interesting review! The cover makes me think of a Goosebumps horror story, ha. I agree with Lan: not sure it's one for me. I lurve action which usually keeps me hooked for a story and also high quality books. My biggest problem with self-published books is that not a lot of them have been professionally edited. They'd be so good if the author had went out of their way to get a freelance editor!

    btw, to answer your question re: The Seven Realms Series, YES! They are the best. They're high fantasy, which is usually a hit or miss for me, but I loved these books. I read the first three in like two months! I did think the third book was more of a filler book, but I'm excited to see where the series ends.

    1. @Ash: Yes, I agree! If a self-published author is going to publish, they need some sort of editing help, if only from good beta-readers. Some end up needing professional help, and this one needed it badly.

      Thanks for your opinion on The Seven Realms series. I look forward to reading it!

  5. Hmmm, sounds interesting but I'm so hesitant about self published books.

    1. @Jenny: I wouldn't be hesitant about self-published books in general, but this one is a bit problematic. There are many good ones out there, though, so never fear.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...