Series: The Witchlands
Author: Sarah Dennard
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 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 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.
All book reviews I write are spoiler-free!
I discuss this book more in-depth (with spoilers) in my book discussion.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Truthwitch is the first in a new young adult fantasy series, The Witchlands by Sarah Dennard. There are four planned installments in the series so far, with them coming out once a year. So if you’re like me and hate waiting for sequels to come out, you may want to hold off on reading this until it’s nearer to the release date of the next book. Overall, I would say this was a pretty good read, and I’ll probably pick up the sequel when it comes out in 2017.
The chapters alternate between different character point of views, which can be confusing and frustrating at times. I definitely preferred certain characters over others, with a couple of them irritating me. Since the focus of the story is on Safiya and Iseult, the Truthwitch and Threadwitch respectively, I would get confused when their POVs switched because they were usually physically together and I wasn’t sure who was feeling what. My confusion cleared up later in the book however, possibly because I just got used to it.
The beginning of Truthwitch was almost painfully slow and hard to understand because there was A LOT of new terminology used without being explained much. The few times terminology was explained, it seemed a bit unnatural and out-of-place. It crossed my mind a lot to put the book down, but I kept trudging along and giving it the benefit of the doubt. This is the first hardcover book I’ve read in a while since my Kindle has been so convenient in college, so I wasn’t sure if the reason I couldn’t get into it was because I wasn’t used to reading an actual book. However, I knew this wasn’t the case because the book is more enjoyable further along.
It wasn’t until chapter 11 (page 122) that I started to enjoy the book. This was mainly due to a mini plot twist, which I found were actually fairly prevalent. Although there were portions of the story that were starkly obvious, I was surprised a good number of times, and that helped hold my interest and make the book hard to put down (well, after chapter 11).
I loved the magic in this book. It was unique and really fun to read. The author was very creative with this. Witches who have powers only have one power, and it could range from a certain type of healing, to a specialization such as basically being a phone (Voicewitches). The source and history of the magic weren’t explained however, which I think would have been good to have so that the reader could understand the world better.
The romance portions for me were meh. One of the main romances was too “fated” for my tastes, with an invisible force attracting them, even though the characters outwardly showed dislike towards each other. That being said, a couple other romances were really good, but unfortunately not prevalent enough for my liking. I hope that they’ll be more present in the next book.
I really loved the different friendships and the depth and importance placed on them. As I said in one of my earlier reviews, I feel like a lot of books don’t develop friendships enough. However, this book did a great job at that. I think there could’ve been more background on some friendships so that the reader could get a more well-rounded sense of the friendships, but it was still a great aspect of the story.
The world building was okay. It was good how the world wasn’t completely linear, but at times it felt like different parts of the world were mentioned just for the sake of adding more to the world. It was confusing when characters would refer to five difference places in a chapter at the beginning, but the map at the beginning of the book was helpful.
The character development was decent, although expected since there was intense foreshadowing for certain scenarios and attitude changes. There are obvious differences between the main characters in the beginning and end of the book, which I could always appreciate.
Overall, I felt like there were scenes that seemed too rushed because character interactions weren’t fully developed. This may have been due to the POV changes, but I felt like there were areas that could’ve been prolonged. Additionally, I found a few typos, which hindered my progress when I found them because I would re-read a sentence or paragraph to try to make sense of it, before realizing that there were a couple of words or commas missing. However with all that being said, I enjoyed the book as a whole because the end of each chapter would want me to read more to see how the characters’ journeys played out.
I would recommend this to people who want to read a fantasy that’s a light read. There were surprises that I didn’t expect, but the larger plot twists were predictable. You may not enjoy the first quarter of the book (~120 pages), but I promise it gets better after that! The book doesn’t end on a major cliffhanger, but does leave the reader wanting to know what happens next. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story plays out.
If you’ve already read the book, head on over to my Truthwitch book discussion!