Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard.
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy.
Publisher: Tor Teen.
Pub. Date: Jan. 5, 2016.
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.
Personal Enjoyment: ●●●●●
Writing Quality: ●●●●●
As I’ve gushed many times before, Truthwitch was one of my most eagerly anticipated new releases of this year. I’m pleased to announce, it did not disappoint.
Truthwitch shattered my expectations. The continent of the Witchlands was a beautiful, rich world, rife with complex politics between nations coming to a head over the expiration of the 20-Year Truce. I’ll admit, it wasn’t an entirely smooth transition into this new world: the world-building sometimes felt clunky or unpolished with too much new terminology dropped on the reader all at once. The magic system at first feels too unpredictable and unrestrained, but as the story progresses patterns begin to emerge as to how each brand of witchery works. I can’t fault this shaky beginning, though, because I cannot say how the world-building could have been done better.
Each character was brilliantly depicted. None were too powerful (not even Safiya, the Truthwitch title character) and none were without flaws. You get to know each and every one of them individually through each of the four “main” characters’ points of view. I never felt like any one person had too much time in the spotlight (though I could do with more Aeduan, really). With the second book titled Windwitch (after Merik), I’m hoping the series continues spotlighting each main character on the cover in turn. Here’s hoping for Bloodwitch (Aeduan) and Threadwitch (Iseult) as titles for books three and four!
I fell in love with this group of friends thrown together by circumstance and adventure. As a fangirl, I had a tough time picking out my romantic ships, and then I just gave up. I’d be totally content with any conceivable pairing between the four, or if they all decided they’re best friends and Thread-family for life and continue adventuring into old age (even Aed! That said, I’m pretty sure Kullen and Iz were yelling “Just kiss already!” at their Thread-brother and -sister. I have to give major props to Susan Dennard for doing sexual tension just right– oftentimes in Young Adult, there is no mention of sex, only these wild, weird, passionate feelings that remain unnamed throughout the entire series. The steamy scenes in this book were neither too chaste nor overly eroticized, totally age-appropriate for the characters and older-YA readers.
The ending came together so beautifully. It was explosive, tragic, hopeful… I couldn’t ask for more. I could see which plot-lines would continue into later books, but overall everything felt well-resolved. Even though I loved Truthwitch, I’m totally satisfied and won’t have much trouble happily waiting for the next book. But then, I still have to read Susan Dennard’s other trilogy, Something Strange and Deadly, which should tide me over.