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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Bitter Fruit by SF Benson is the second book in the All Things Dark & Magickal series. Arabella has one goal: to change her society's oppression of women. Her future revolves around the role she will play doing jobs men don't want, marrying well, and having children. Arabella refuses to be oppressed any longer and is determined to change her own fate. Her first step is to get her and her brother out of her mother's house, which brings her to the doorstep of the mysterious Miss White seeking a bargain, and she makes a shocking discovery. Miss White has an even more dreadful plan in mind that involves Arabella traveling through time to change her fate and find the souls of seven evil men to fill the bad apple. While she works to change her future, her stepbrother returns with his own agenda and will stop at nothing to prevent Arabella from playing with fire.
SF Benson once again captures this era with the exciting twist of time-traveling and fairytales which create a fresh and new adventure that hits all the right notes. Benson blends a historical setting, science fiction, and elements of fairytales for an unforgettable treat. The setting stays primarily within the 1800s where Arabella faces off against the oppressive society that restricts women and their worth. The fairytale of Snow White is a clear inspiration with elements woven throughout the plot. The twist on the fairytale is unique and different, thanks to the genre-blending into something entirely unique to Benson. The story focuses on the pull of power having consequences, which is something Arabella learns as she's faced with what she wants and keeping history intact. The historical setting is key to Arabella's journey as the oppression of women is a commentary central to her character, a drive that is woven into her actions. Bitter Fruit is a layered tale that blends adventure with time-travel, fairytales, and a historical setting for an original and entirely addictive read that will be an instant classic.