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Monday, January 4, 2016

Review: Truthwitch

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
by Susan Dennard
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


This is a book I've been aching to read for such a long time, and I'm so happy that it fulfilled my (very unrealistic) expectations.  From the synopsis, Truthwitch sounds epically engaging with a fully formed, realistic fantasy world, and a dynamic magic system based on the elements.  And it totally delivers on all those things.  The story can seem a little too complex from the synopsis, but once you get into the story, it settles into a rhythm that makes it easy to understand how most things work.  But there is still a lot more to build upon for the rest of the series.

The characters are the best part of the book though - the story is told through four revolving POVs - Safi, Iseult, Merik and Aeduan (and I love that the rest of the series is named after each of these witches).  It's clear that this novel is called Truthwitch because it is Safi that everyone is focused on in this first book.  Her power is unique, and there are a lot of political machinations in place to use her.  But Safi is not one to make it easy for anyone to do that.  She's fierce and crafty and great fun to read about.  Her bond with Iseult - basically the ultimate bestie relationship - is so beautiful to read about to.  I love that two strong female characters lead this book, and how much heart that gives the story.

Iseult is such a complex character too.  She's a strong, intelligent woman, but the people of the Witchlands regard her race with suspicion and prejudice and she has to deal with that a lot in this book.  It adds more realism to a fantasy world just bursting with details.  Merik, is quite the character too.  He's so grumpy, yet lovable and his determination to make the right decisions and be the best leader he can for his crew is inspiring.  The fourth main character - Aeduan - is pretty dark.  He can be seen as the villain, but there is so much more to him, and his actions don't always bear out with villainy.  There's no way to tell how things will play out with him, and that gray area makes him fascinating.

The story moves quickly but there is a steady building of suspense and plot, as Safi and Iseult are basically on the run.  There are plenty of action scenes, but the character development is never lacking, and there is some pretty heady romance to keep the reader swooning.  As if Merik and his hunky threadbrother Kullen weren't enough!  And while this first book feels complete, there is definitely enough of an open ending to make you wish you could pick up the second book right away.  I loved how this first book felt so completely like the beginning of this great, grand adventure, and I can't wait to embark on the next installment with these characters.

Truthwitch releases tomorrow! And if you pre-ordered the book, don't forget to sign up for preorder goodies on thewitchlands.com.  You can get a free signed book-plate and double-sided poster (for U.S./Canada and U.K. residents.)  

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