Author: Susan Dennard
Status: Book 1 of The Witchlands
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.
I was really expecting to like this book. The hype for the last few months has been thrown into my face and I bought even the second expecting I’d love it so much that I wouldn’t be able to wait.
This review might contain very mild spoilers, and lots of rants.
Safiya and Iseult are being chased. Mostly because Safiya is a Truthwitch, meaning she can discern truth from lies. Now, why is this so important over any other witchery that everyone either wants her or is helping her escape? I DON’T KNOW. It doesn’t seem very impressive to me. I’d rather have a powerful elemental with me.*
They might only want freedom and a nice place to live in, but they attract trouble wherever they go. Legit. At every turn there’s some problem. And let’s not even go into the fact that there is a Bloodwitch hunting her, for reasons I’m still not completely sure of.
So there’s this truce between empires. It’s coming to it’s end. There’ll be a war and something something I don’t know. It wasn’t explained much more than “The Twelve Year Truce is going to and and we’re all doomed, especially Safi.”
Prince Merik of another kingdom is roped into saving Safi as well. And a huge chase ensues. There’s some chemistry between Merik and Safi. And Iseult.. is injured.
Honestly, the only thing I liked in the book was Merik and Safi’s chemistry but Merik kept doing the “I can’t because of who she is and who I am” nonsense that I usually only read in girls. I got quite annoyed.
*Is this why I’m not a royal? Because I make bad decisions?
Safiya fon Hasstrel was irritating. She kept taking rash decisions and leaned on Iseult to be calm and come up with good plans to balance her bad ones. The whole time, I just saw Safi getting them into trouble and Iseult coming up with escape plans because SAFI CAN’T. She’s all rash decisions and no brains.
Iseult kept getting tagged along in all the trouble. I honestly just felt sad for Iseult because she followed Safi everywhere and did not complain ONCE. I mean, the least Safi could do was appreciate that and sit tight. Iseult has her own issues with her powers, and she’s Nomatsi so she receives a lot of discrimination. She’s the diversity rep in the book. She’s clear headed and keeps reminding herself to stay calm and expressionless.
Stasis. Stasis in your fingertips and in your toes.
She repeats that line to herself a lot throughout the book, reminding herself to not feel or express. BUT despite getting her fair share of the book in her POV, she wasn’t very important. And I wish she was. She could have had more of a role than following Safi and only a small bit of her stuff when Safi could get everyone chasing her and also a romance.
Merik is a noble prince who just wants the best for his kingdom and is fighting with his sister for it. He’s an Airwitch and has only one goal which is to get trade started between his kingdom and others again. I liked him.. but that much too. Comparitively, to Safi, I liked him way more.
Aeduan, the Bloodwitch, is super powerful and feared. He’s got his own agenda throughout the book and we get quite a bit from his POV but I couldn’t understand why. I could have gone without it so I don’t understand his importance in the book. Considering he’s the last of the four character POVs we get, I’ll admit, I was rooting for him and Iseult for a bit there. Mainly because I wanted Iseult to have someone who is stable
The World Building
Oh I’ve been waiting to get to this. Let the rants begin.
In the beginning of the book, the word Threadsisters was mentioned with absolutely NO explanation. By the time I understood what it meant, I was quite into the book that I go annoyed by every reference to it until then. That’s point number 1.
A little later, Cleaving was mentioned, with minimal explanation which confused the heck out of me. Point number 2.
Though no one knew what made a person cleave…
In page 56, that line is followed by some theory nonsense which didn’t explain anything. Basically, even the characters don’t know about their own world. And since we’re seeing from their POV and thoughts, we know nothing either.
I was into page 462 (out of 479) and this very important mention to Cahr Awen was made. Guess what? I didn’t know WHAT IT MEANT. I had no clue, and I spent the rest of the book trying to understand what I missed. After I finished the book, I flipped back and searched and realised why I didn’t. Because the explanation did not give me any clarity and I thought it might come later. (It didn’t)
The world building and explanation was not done well. And because of that, I didn’t like the writing as well. There’s this fantasy world with witches mostly based on the elements but from nowhere there are Bloodwitches, Glamourwitches, Threadwitches and Voidwitches. I’ve finished one whole book and I still don’t know if that’s all the witch types existing (I think there are more?). I’m also clueless about all the powers of a Bloodwitch despite reading from the character’s POV who knows everything about his powers.
Because now she knew what she could do—what she could be.
Um, which is what exactly? The part when she had a “eureka” moment was completely related to (from what I gathered) mental view and confidence. Not relating to her powers. But it’s now mentioned as if she has some hidden powers we found out recently? All she’s got is some goddarn luck by which she barely survives every single time. Oh and because of Iseult’s brain.
I’m quite disappointed with the plot, characters, world building, the “history lessons” (which told me barely anything)—I can say that the only thing I liked was the chemistry between Safi and Merik, but I’m not very into that as well? I’m considering it my one beacon of light and going into the second book. That’s it.
Someone said on Goodreads that Windwitch is a 100% better, and I really hope it is.