TRUTHWITCH (The Witchlands, #1)
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
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.
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If you’re on Twitter, Goodreads and follow book bloggers around the world, surely you’ve encountered posts about Truthwitch by Susan Dennard already. There was so much hype surrounding this book leading up to its release date, January 5th. I even remember reading tweets from people who attended BEA ’15 lining up and sprinting just to snag an ARC of it. With my Twitter-BEA experience, I could definitely say that Truthwitch was one of the “It” books during that event.
Next thing I know, early reviews started to pop out and more people were raving about it. The hype’s continuously building and also having my hopes up that it would turn out so great, just like what they’re saying. But then all of us experienced reading an over-hyped book and ended up thinking that, “meh it didn’t live up to its hype”. So that factor made me quite nervous to read this one and also the reason why I decided to stop checking out reviews. I don’t what to build it up more in my head.
Well as I’m typing in this review, I understood now why the early readers of this book are gushing about it. All those excitement-feely tweets/posts, I understand you now guys. Oh hell-gates, Truthwitch is such an impressive series starter. There are just so many elements of the story that people needs to get excited about and go for it. Read it.
Truthwitch basically follows the story of the Threadsisters, Safiya and Iseult, who are on the run after encountering such doomed dealings. One thing lead to another and the next thing they know a Bloodwitch (someone who has the ability to sense and control their blood), named Aeduan, is hunting them down. Oh ho ho, that’s just the beginning of it. Safiya and Iseult find themselves in the middle of political machinations, truces, battles and mystifying religious connections.
Susan Dennard created such a complex, rich and vibrant world. As I flicked the first page of the book, it made me feel like being transported and on a real adventure into a new world. I love the fact that there’s no information dumping. It’s wherein terminologies are being shoved on our throats as early as page one so it’s out of the way already. Here in Truthwitch, we’re on our own. Us, readers, have to grasp whatever it is being presented and introduced to us as they come. It sparked an element of surprise in me because I never know what I and the characters will be facing next. Once I got the hang of the world, terms and everything, I completely breezed through this book. Though, I need a guide-like novella or something for me to get really acquainted with every single thing that involves all the Witchery stuff in Witchlands.
How many books do we get for this series? Three? Six? Whatever number it is, I do think that Truthwitch has a great pacing – story wise and as the book that will set the movement of the series. A lot of hints and conflicts were dropped in this book as to where the series could possibly go. So I can see a lot of back stories and mysterious elements entering in the sequel (and the next books after that) and I do think will do wonders again for the world building. We are not just going to pick up where we left off but we’ll surely be digging deeper into the heart of everything where this story is built upon. New and exciting things to dive into definitely await us. Going back to Truthwitch, there was no room for any dull moment in it. It’s packed with detailed and intricate action sequences, lull moments wherein we get to know more about our characters and their world and numerous curveballs thrown into the story. There were times when the story gets predictable, like you clearly know where it is heading and your theory is actually correct. But then, how you get to that certain point of your theory and the moments following that will leave you breathless. I tell you, it’s an intense roller coaster ride.
One thing that I love the most about Truthwitch is that there are a lot of active characters (key players) in the story. Everyone is concocting plans. Everyone is on the move. We follow through the adventures of several characters and actually got my mind spinning. All good. Though, it may feel like a tad bit overwhelming because it’s shifting from one character to another and a lot of things are happening but no, things were perfectly plotted, timed and all a result for things being set in motion. With a number of key players in the story Dennard was pretty clever about this because the plot and how she wrote the book worked flawlessly together. It essentially showed what she wanted for her readers to see: that every single character that she created has a purpose and has something to fight for in the story. Though, I have unsure feelings over some characters. Especially, Aeduan. I’m keeping my eyes on him.
Aside from enjoying almost everything about Truthwitch, now I get to talk about how I adore the friendship and romance in this. Reading how Safiya and Iseult’s friendship works makes me want to have my own Threadsister. They balance each other – Iseult’s logic levels with Safiya’s reckless mouth and actions. They’re also so attuned with each other and moves/works perfectly in sync. Their fierce love, loyalty and years of friendship are some of the things that bound them together. Read the book and I’m sure you’ll be in awe with this two.
Not dropping names. But oh hell-gates, I think most of you will say “Finally, somebody got it right!” when it comes to the romance component of this book. I’ve been reading reviews of other YA books out there and a lot are put off with how romance between characters are being dealt with. Trust me, not with this one. Nobody was struck love at first sight. Nobody said that three letter word. What we get here is a sweet, slow-burn romance and tension between the characters. It was so (so so) good to witness how friendship/relationship blooms in Truthwitch. It’s not overwhelming to the readers but enough to keep us on our toes. But the most important thing is it does not overpower the plot. I’m excited as to how relationships will progress in the next books. If Iseult could just see the Thread that’s burning so bright with me now, I’m sure it would be giddy pink.
Overall, I had a thrilling experience with Truthwitch. It woke up my YA High Fantasy bone in my body and reminded me why I love exploring books in this particular genre. I was so engrossed reading this book. Consider me hooked and invested with all the Witchery stuff and the characters. To those who'll still be asking me what's Truthwitch like, let me use the book language. Truthwitch kinda reminds me of Grisha Trilogy’s world-building and Throne of Glass’ bad-ass action-packed sequences with the main characters having a Vampire Academy - Rose and Lissa’s (could also be the TMI/TID parabatai) relationship. I love all those series that I’ve mentioned (even though, I’ve only read the first of book of TOG series... I must read it asap!), so just imagine all of those elements combined together and thrust into this unique world of Witchlands with political-Witchery conflicts. Picture that out. Sweet!