Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

January 13, 2017 Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Truthwitch by Susan DennardTruthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Published: February 23rd 2016 by Tor Books
Format: Paperback, 412 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
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4.5 Stars

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Having loved Truthwitch the first time I read it, I was wary about re-reading it for review — had my illness-addled brain loved a book that wasn’t really that good? Would I find things to poke holes at now that I knew how the story unfolds? Would I still be desperate for Windwitch?

I’m glad to report that Truthwitch held up to a re-read well. I know Dennard has tweeted a thread recapping the book and encourages people to re-read the book after Windwitch, but I’m a rebel (and I needed to review it!). I did have a few thoughts that I hadn’t had the first time around though.

I loved Safi and Iseult on my first read and in the re-read. These Threadsisters are amazing. I love the way they work together, how they make up for one another’s weaknesses and support each other. They can work independently, but they’re stronger together. Safi is a Truthwitch, a witch who can tell truth from lies, while Iseult can see people’s Threads as a Threadwitch (she’s like the ultimate mood-ring). Truthwitch focusses heavily on Safi, as the title implies, but I’m hoping one of the four books will focus on Iseult (it seems it will, since the second and third books are titled Windwitch and Bloodwitch respectively).

Prince Merik and his Threadbrother Kellen were a great counterpoint to the heroines. I loved Merrik’s steadfastness and loyalty, and would have loved to see more Kellen on the page. The chapters from Merik’s point of view added an interesting dimension to the story as he understood the politics of the world a lot better than Safi and Iseult. The greatest mystery in Truthwitch is the Bloodwitch Aeduan, who was introduced as an antagonist but quickly became the fourth protagonist. I can’t wait to see how his story develops!

I love books where the world-building is folded into the story and revealed in pieces so I liked the way Dennard handled the sometimes complex world of Truthwitch. But it will frustrate some readers that hardly anything is known to the protagonists. There are some important clues, such as the reminder that it’s the victors who write the history books in war, which indicate that certain truths have been hidden deliberately, but I think this first book is more concerned with establishing what the protagonists (and readers) think they know than revealing the big truths. I’m looking forward to seeing how all the different elements weave together as the series goes on.

I’m also a fan of slow-burning romance so I enjoyed the way Safi and Merik tiptoed around each other before finally admitting the inevitability of what they felt. I loved seeing their bond develop through Iseult’s eyes, as she saw the bonds between them form and strengthen and stretch with time.

Truthwitch is a quick and fun read and I’m glad it withstood a re-read so well. My excitement regarding Windwitch has been rejuvenated so I’m glad I have that ready to go (it’s out now, go grab it!). I think this series will be enjoyed by those who like YA fantasy such as Throne of Glass and Poison Study.

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