Bitter Medicine

- Mia Tsai


As a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine, ignored middle child Elle was destined to be a doctor. Instead, she is underemployed as a mediocre magical calligrapher at the fairy temp agency, paranoid that her murderous younger brother will find her and their elder brother.

Using her full abilities will expose Elle’s location. Nevertheless, she challenges herself by covertly outfitting Luc, her client and crush, with high-powered glyphs.

Half-elf Luc, the agency’s top security expert, has his own secret: he’s responsible for a curse laid on two children from an old assignment. To heal them, he’ll need to perform his job duties with unrelenting excellence and earn time off from his tyrannical boss.

When Elle saves Luc’s life on a mission, he brings her a gift and a request for stronger magic to ensure success on the next job—except the next job is hunting down Elle’s younger brother.

As Luc and Elle collaborate, their chemistry blooms. Happiness, for once, is an option for them both. But Elle is loyal to her family, and Luc is bound by his true name. To win freedom from duty, they must make unexpected sacrifices.



First, the ink.


* Thanks to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. *

solid, good read:
Tsai has created an incredibly detailed world within these pages. It did take some time for me to figure out what was going on – there’s an assumption at the beginning that you know Elle and her back story (so much so that I went back to confirm this wasn’t part of a series) – but, eventually, everything comes together and starts to make sense. I do think we’re lacking information at times which can leave the characters or their situations feeling a little underdeveloped. For the most part, though, I enjoyed this story and these characters.

The fast pace draws you into the narrative but makes the beginning a little choppy and disorganised. It feels like Tsai eventually gets into her groove, and things move more fluidly, but similar to the lack of information, it does take some time.

I appreciated Tsai’s decision not to translate certain pieces of dialogue, especially after reading the afterword. It adds more realism and depth to a fantastical narrative. There’s not only a wide range of creatures but a wide range of cultures represented within these pages.

With a few hitches, it can be difficult to become absorbed in Bitter Medicine, but I found it incredibly worth it. I wish it were part of a series and we were getting more stories from this world, but I enjoyed this read.


Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] Waite in the The New York Times, Caren Gussoff Sumption for Locus, The Book Lover’s Boudoir, Britt’s Book Blurbs, and a pair of Bookstagram posts (@onceuponabooktalk and @yourlocalbookreader). Tsai was […]

See All Reviews   |   Quotes   |   Sort Reviews By:    # of Pages   |   Author [ Name | Gender | Nationality ]   |   DNF   |   Genre   |   Rating   |   Series   |   Title   |   Year Published


Like this:

Like Loading...