Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Intense, Engaging, Fun, Kick-Ass, Political, and Incredibly Complex | Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
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.
"It's intense and engaging. It's fun and kick ass and political and just so complex."

Ahhh, let's take a moment to talk about the hype monster surrounding Truthwitch. I'm not going to lie; I added to that hype as part of the #Witchlanders team. But I will admit that there were many times when I knew I was just playing/adding to the hype. Don't get me wrong, I love Sooz and am not ungrateful for the street team, for the experience, and for my clan (Aether!) (on a side note, I felt a twinge of pride every time Aether was mentioned in the book hehe), but it sometimes felt like a little much, like everyone was always seeing something about Truthwitch, which I guess was the point of the street team.

But moving on, I was very much looking forward to this book. I really enjoyed Dennard's first series, Something Strange and Deadly, and I loved that the book was meant to focus on a badass female friendship. I kept hearing amazing things about the book from people who had read the ARC, and it didn't help that I kept talking and thinking about it.

I loved it as much as I expected to. I love the characters and the way Dennard builds up characterization and really shows how people change, even within the time frame of the novel. Dennard has always done a great job of creating interesting, complex characters and conflicts, and Truthwitch is no different. Each character has a different background, different experiences, different motives, and different goals, yet they're woven together to create this story, and it works so well. And of course, there's Iseult and Safiya's friendship, which is just so fabulous and so nice to see. The way they complement one another and support and love one another is everything I could have hoped for and more. They are stronger when they are together, but they still have flaws, both individually and together, and I loved that. Seeing how intertwined their stories are was just such a treat, and I love how much love they showed to one another, either out loud or within their narratives. It's the kind of friendship I would want, that strong bond that becomes hard for others to even begin to sever. There's this loyalty and sense of wanting what's best for the other--almost to a fault--that is so powerful and does lend itself to some conflicts as well. To be able to see both of their thoughts and see how much they both love one another is important and well-done and just fabulous. The romance that is set up is also just all heart eyes. I love it!! Sooz has such a way with writing interactions and relationships (of all kinds), and it's one of the strongest aspects of this novel, for sure. It's a fantastic fantasy novel that sets up for a much grander set of challenges ahead, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book. This book is so full and so much happens. It's intense and engaging. It's fun and kick ass and political and just so complex.

The map is gorgeous and accompanies her grand world building. At times it was an uphill battle to fully comprehend everything. The magic system and its intricacies are a bit difficult to fully grasp at first and aren't fully fleshed out because the characters already (of course) know how it works and the history behind it. I think Dennard does a wonderful job of explaining it as best she could, but there were still many points at which I just didn't understand what was being said or explained. But while I think it's important to understand the magic within the Witchlands, I could still follow the story.

The book was such a ride and kept me turning pages. However, there are slow(er) portions, and I could see others getting put off by that. Particularly at the beginning, it can be a bit tedious to get through the set up where there's not much happening yet, but I definitely think it picks up. As with any novel, there are also some spots throughout where the action lulls, and I could see that affecting people's read of it. I didn't mind it too much because that was where a lot of important developments occurred and where I saw a bit of the political aspects of the world and of the conflict. I personally found that she still captured my attention and kept me engaged, even if not as much as I was hoping or as when it was an action-packed scene.

I found that Truthwitch read very much like her Something Strange and Deadly series, which is fine by me because I enjoyed the series. However, some of the things I didn't like as much about the SSaD series did carry over, and I still saw parts of it in the novel. If you didn't particularly like her writing or style of storytelling, you might not enjoy Truthwitch. I don't know yet how Truthwitch stacks up again SSaD, but I'm thinking that this is a step up, an improvement (again, not that SSaD wasn't good!). She has certainly improved a lot and has created yet another wonderful set of characters and an enthralling new world. I cannot wait for the next part of the adventure, but even more so, I cannot wait to see more of the wonderful friendship she has woven into an already intricate story.
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