Written by: Susan Dennard
Published by: Tor Teen
Release date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: BookExpo America 2015
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
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.
I’m gonna throw some fandoms at you really quickly: Avatar: The Last Airbender. Grisha. Throne of Glass.
You like those things? How about a mashup of those things? Because Truthwitch is… okay, well, it’s not really a mashup of those things, because it is 1000% its own thing, but I’m trying to say if you like those things you will likely also like Truthwitch. Yes? Yes. Good. Moving on… (Can you tell it’s really hard for me to be coherent about this book?? Bear with me. There is so much to like about Truthwitch, and I have so much to say.)
Firstly: I gravitate toward fantasy because I love the escapism of it — give me a cool new world and some awesome magic and I’ll be happy. …But that’s actually a lie. Even fantasy books can’t hold my interest unless there are great characters.
Truthwitch is filled to the brim with fantastic characters.
Most obviously, we have the two main characters, Safi and Iseult. They are desperate for freedom, to find a place for themselves away from their very different, but similarly horrible, pasts.
Safi, especially, really struck me; I loved how she went from simply wanting freedom to wanting MORE — wanting something to fight for, to believe in, something to better herself and her purpose in life. Both Safi and Iseult are so strong as individual characters, the perfect complements to one another — but together, as a pair, they are fantastic. I haven’t read very many books with female friendships to get super excited about, which makes me sad. But this one makes up for SO MUCH that has been lacking on that front. Safi and Iseult’s friendship is so true and believable. These young women have faith in each other, they care for and love each other. Their relationship is both an incredibly strong sister-like bond, and a partnership that’s built on mutual trust and respect and knowledge of each others’ abilities. When they team up, they get sh!t done. End of story. (Or is it just the beginning…?)
Every character, though, is amazing. There’s Merik (a prince and ship’s captain — more on him later) and his thread-brother Kullen; and then there’s Aeduan, who is just… omg. He may seem like the bad guy (maybe he is), but you just KNOW he has some serious past issues that forced him into his current situation. I couldn’t help feeling for him from the very beginning. But all that to say, each and every character had their own quirks and failings and tiny details that revealed so much about them and made them feel so real. I loved them all.
As important as the characters are, though, I can’t discount the important of a cool world and awesome magic.
The worldbuilding is handled EXACTLY the way I love.
The worldbuilding in Truthwitch was handled in my favorite way — on a need-to-know basis. It’s the kind of thing where you have to sit back and wait for answers, rather than expecting all the details up front (there’s very little infodumping, hooray!!), which I loved. Don’t try to piece every little detail together as soon as you hear about something. Sit back and let the story unfold, because things will be revealed when you need to know them. ;)
And the magic system?! SO cool. It reminds me of the magic in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as the Grisha series, with its different broader ‘classes’ of magic, and then the subclasses and specialties within those. And in this world, magical power isn’t necessarily a guarantee of political power or status, or vice versa; nor is it always viewed as a good thing… And not all the main characters who do have magic are super great at it, which I loved.
The plot itself is sort of hard to explain, but essentially: All the empires that make up the Witchlands have been part of a 20-year truce that’s about to end. The three main empires have been maneuvering the smaller ones to fall, so they can get back to their war without interference. But they severely underestimated at least one of those little nations — and especially its prince, Merik, who will stop at nothing to save his people and help his starving country (I LOVE MERIK). Safi and Iseult get wrapped up in things with Merik, and… stuff happens… (spoilers, okay?! Spoilers.) So, while there’s political stuff going on behind the scenes which serves to drive the plot, Truthwitch focuses on the actions being taken in response to those political issues, so it’s a very action-oriented plot, which I adored.
Oh crap, I forgot to mention the ship.
THE SHIPPPPPPP. My spoilerphobic heart can’t bring itself to spell out what the ship is, exactly, because it might not be obvious right off the bat. But suffice it to say I am 100% on board with it. It’s a fantastic (slow, complex, believable) progression from dislike to respect to more. The two of them have amazing chemistry. There’s dancing and kissing and great dialog and just… yeah. They are definitely my cup of tea.
Guys, seriously. I really don’t know what else to say. I devoured this book. Truthwitch is full of awesomeness on every front — the worldbuilding, the magic system, the plot, the CHARACTERS, the ship… I really cannot emphasize enough — if you like YA fantasy, you need Truthwitch in your life. It’s just a fact.
*gives it all the stars*