- Truthwitch, Susan Dennard
Rating: * * * * *
Series: #1 The Witchlands
Publication Date: January 2016
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
There is, and has been for a while now, lots of hype about Truthwitch, which meant that I had high expectations of the novel. I am elated to say that Truthwitch fulfilled them all and more.
Truthwitch has humour, friendship, romance, bucket loads of action, fantastic I-want-to-be-you heroines, an awesome fantasy world… I could go on and on!
One of my favourite aspects of this book is the friendship between the two main characters, Safi and Iseult.
“‘Just me’ isn’t who we are,” Iseult hollered back. “I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.”
As Threadsisters, they know each other back to front and are fiercely loyal to each other. They always have each other’s backs.
Their relationship reminds me of a line from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows about Kaz and Inej being ‘twin soldiers’. This is exactly what Safi and Iseult are when they need to defend themselves. One is the right hand and the other the left. I love that in ‘Truthwitch’ friendship is more important than romance.
Although romance doesn’t centre stage in the novel, I do really like the relationship between Safi and Merik. Their chemistry is electric, and their exchanging of insults is great fun.
Sometimes when I read novels where the chapters alternate focus between different characters, I massively prefer one character’s point of view, and have the urge to skip through the other characters’. That is not the case here. All of the main characters are engaging, from Safi, the rash, loud and determined Domna of Cartorra, and Aeduan, the Bloodwitch relentlessly chasing her, to Iseult, the Threadwitch concerned with maintaining a state of stasis, and Merik, a prince ready to do whatever it takes to save his kingdom.
The world of the Witchlands is imaginative and original. There is so much to enjoy, including the stories of the Cahr Awen, the idea of Threadsiblings, the dances at court, and, of course, all the different types of Witchery – iron, wind, word, and thread to name but a few. I think that the latter, which is the magic Iseult has, might just be my favourite, as all the colours and types of Thread are fascinating.
‘Right before Iseult’s eyes, Safi’s threads were changing from those that build into those that bind.’
I did find all the types of Witchery slightly overwhelming in the first few chapters of the novel; it took me a few chapters to get fully integrated into the world-building. However, after the first few chapters, I was utterly immersed in the setting and the story, and was right on the edge of my seat, cheering Safi and Iseult on, and smiling all the way.
Truthwitch is a fantastic first instalment in the Witchlands series, and I have absolutely no idea how I am going to be able to wait until 2017 for the second! One of the best YA fantasy novels I have read, and a firm favourite!