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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: TOR Teen
Release date: January 5, 2016

Series:  The Witchlands, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

The instant New York Times bestseller from the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series!

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 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.

As I have a different opinion of this book than another reviewer, I thought I would talk about why I had such an alternate view.

I had such high hopes for this book. The cover is gorgeous. The idea of the novel is very intriguing, BUT (you did sense the BUT coming, didn't you?) there were quite a few big flaws that just made it a big disappointment.

First, there is too much action and too fast a pace to make sense. The story starts out with Safi and Iseult being chased due to setting a nasty trap for the wrong person. Why are they setting traps and robbing people? We never find out. Then, they are chased a few pages later again out of the city. And soon after that, Iseult must flee out of her former family's encampment due to a controlling Cursewitch and her mother's rushed escape plan. She meets up with Safi again, and both are being hunted by a Bloodwitch and having to flee the Empire aboard a Nubrevnan ship. A ship which has been contracted to spirit Safi away from her future husband and life as Empress and being chased by the Marstoks and the Cartorrans. It just keeps being a, pardon my terrible pun, witchhunt! There's no rest or time to get to know our characters without these super high, run-for-your-life stakes. Also, what is the point of being hunted anyway? Supposedly, it is because Safi is a Truthwitch and anyone who is a Truthwitch has the potential to be used for their power. What makes this different from being used as an Ironwitch or Threadwitch though?

There are many instances that pull the reader from the suspension of disbelief, bringing my next point to light: the lack of good worldbuilding. There's some great bones, but a lot of things are not explained that should be. Other readers/reviewers were asking about a glossary. This wouldn't be necessary if things were explained in the book at all. For instance, what is a Threadsister/brother? What makes this bond between Safi and Iseult so special? How many different types of witches are there? What makes them different from regular people? Can the Bloodwitch only hunt people with witcheries or anybody with blood? It's really frustrating, frankly, not to have these explained, and ultimately ruined this book entirely for me. Part of writing fantasy is that you have to have well-established worldbuilding and this just didn't, as it didn't support the elements it introduced. We don't find out a lot of things that really would have made the story come fully alive. Although I did finish this book, it just didn't interest me enough to even bother about reading book 2, Windwitch. I liked the characters mostly, but really wanted more of the focus on Safi and Iseult as they are there to hold the story up. The introduction of Merik is nice, but his connection with Safi just became too tiresome after awhile as it was mainly insta-love.

Side note: I noticed that Susan Dennard is bffs with Sarah Maas after getting to the acknowledgements. This is also probably should have clued me in that I was going to be disappointed as Sarah Maas and I don't get along.

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.


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