Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Truthwitch (A Witchlands Novel, 1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Fantasy, Swords & Sorcery, Young Adult
Source: Illumicrate, Box 2
Publisher: Tor (14th Januaey 2016)


Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. Afterclashing 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 Count, 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.

Rating: *** (3 stars)

TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard is the first book in an interesting new series called The Witchlands Series. It introduces us to a new world full of magic and on the cusp of war. The book follows the story of two young witches Safiya and Iseult who have a history of getting themselves into trouble. When the story starts, they end up getting themselves into a far deeper trouble than they expected to.

I have been looking forward to getting my hands on this book since not long after the release of QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas (review) when I read in an interview (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten where) that Maas was looking forward to the new release from her best friend – Susan Dennard. Curious, and always up for a good fantasy, I looked the book up and checked the blurb and I was instantly curious. Thankfully this book came in the second Illumicrate box. On the whole I really quite liked the book. Dennard has created an interesting world and magic system. I thought the main characters were interesting. I did have a few issues with pacing – at times I felt like the story dragged. But on the whole I think this book is a strong three – maybe even four – star book.

The first thing I want to talk about is world building, because this is something that I think needs to be done well for a fantasy book to work. I thought Dennard did this well, and at no point did I feel like she was spoon-feeding me information. The world of The Witchlands Series is a complicated and complex one. I think Dennard did a good job with the background tension as when TRUTHWITCH starts the world is coming to the end of a truce, and is almost on the brink of war. I really enjoyed the way magic is presented in this world. That people have magic in specific areas – and some are more rare than others – and that within those areas a person’s magic can be either very general or very specific. I found it interesting to see some of the different types. I also liked the fact that magic is shown to be finite, and that it can be dangerous to the person using it.

At the centre of the novel are Safiya and Iseult: two very different young women who are best friends. Dennard wrote their friendship brilliantly, and it seems really strong and is in many ways the cornerstone of the book. Safiya is a very fiery character who is very headstrong, and who doesn’t always think things through. Iseult on the other hand is much quieter, and, although she would do anything for her best friend, tends to be more practical. Dennard also does a good job with the secondary characters. I thought the Bloodwitch is quite interesting, and I’m hoping to see more of him in future books. Prince Merik is an interesting character too, and one to watch I think.

TRUTHWITCH basically sets up The Witchlands Series. We get to have a glimpse of what the world is like, and gain a feel for the situation. Apart from the fact that a war is coming, as the blurb helpfully points out, I’m not too sure what to expect from the rest of the series. To me TRUTHWITCH very much feels like a set-up book, that Dennard is getting her pieces into place. That being said, I think the book is a curious and thrilling read. If this book is anything to go by, then The Witchland Series has a lot of potential. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, then be sure to check this book out.

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