The New York Times: I’ve saved the sweetest book for last. BITTER MEDICINE by Mia Tsai, centers on Elle, a descendant of the Chinese god of healing who makes magical glyphs for a fairy bureaucracy and secretly pines for Lucien, a handsome, half-elf agent. When the glyphs work too well, saving Luc’s life but revealing Elle’s existence to the dangerous family members she’s running from, she and Luc will have to atone for the sins of their pasts while working out what they truly mean to each other.
There are so many joys in this paranormal. The wealth of languages, mythologies, religions and magicks are a weight that balances the emotional tenderness. Healing magic, rather than fighting magic, takes center stage — and without spoiling things too much, it’s also one of the rare paranormals to feature a heroine who loses rather than gains power. Tsai does not flinch from this grief: “The overhead lights cast her shadow, faint and watery, across her threshold, and that’s how she imagines she looks: magic-less and broken, a ghostly husk of herself.” In a subgenre that so often makes supernatural power the answer to problems, how refreshing to find one that says being mortal — being human, and happy, and safe — is purpose enough.