The Witchlands: Book One
Written by Susan Dennard
Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic
Published January 5th 2016 by Tor Teen
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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.
My dislike for this book is actually very high. I'd use the word hate, but I think that should be reserved for things that actually deserve hate. It was quite honestly nothing but a huge disappointment for me due to the fact that months prior to its release date, it was already receiving rave reviews. Everyone and their mothers had seen or heard of the infamous Truthwitch, it was praised in every direction on nearly every bookish platform. To be blunt, I just don't understand why it received such an astounding amount of praise. If I hadn't been buddy reading it, I would have dropped it at 5%. And I understand, we all have our opinions but hell this one was genuinely not all that great for me.
This is a fantasy novel, which means there should be a fair amount of worldbuilding. You should know where you are in the novel - you should know the important chunks of history. But you don't get that with Truthwitch. Perhaps I just wasn't paying attention (unlikely, but hey I'm only human). Perhaps I missed something. But I felt completely and utterly lost in what is known as the Witchlands.. I didn't know where the hell the characters were for about 60% of the novel. I didn't know why the world was the way it was. We get some unestablished factoid about some twenty year truce and some starving land and that's just about it. It was the most underdeveloped world I have yet to read in fantasy.
ASDFGH. THE CHARACTERS. Okay first off, let me say that these characters have such complicated names. I just called them by the breed of witch they were. I deleted the book off my ereader (I disliked it so much I had to free up the memory, whoops) But for the sake of this review I might seek out their names. First off: the MC, Special Snowflake herself, Safiya was a carbon copy of all those destined for great things kinda girl. She was bland. She was forgettable. Even her ability was lame as frick. She can tell when someone tells the truth and when they lie. Her magic purrrs to her guys. SO LAAAAME. I'd ask for a refund on my witchery tbh.
Speaking of witches and their abilities - THERE WERE SO MANY FUCKING TYPES OF WITCHES. Yet little to no information on what they can actually DO. Seriously. If you're going to have magical beings, actually have a concrete basis on their powers. Such little info actually hurts my fantasy loving soul. The only wicked or even slightly interesting character was the Bloodwitch (yoo no idea what his name is - Auden? Auiadan?). Other than him I personally didn't find Merik or Iseult engaging whatsoever.
The writing itself wasn't half bad, though it wasn't anything I would consider unique. I enjoyed a few of the action scenes, but due to some contract our special snowflake Safi can *never* get hurt which made my ability to suspend belief blow out the window. The plot however, was poorly established and.. unexciting? I can't begin to imagine how this will become a four book series. Which brings me to the ending of the book. It was rushed, confusing and all around baffling.
Although, I am not totally put off by this book. Near the midsection there were a few bits that kind of made me want to read the sequel when it comes out. I like to know what happens in a story, even if I'm not the biggest fan of it. We shall see, maybe I'll have forgotten I cared a year from now.
I wish I never read this book. Imagine you couldn't swim. You were never taught. But one day, someone grabs you and throws you in the deep end and expects you to understand whats going on. That's how I felt when I read this. It felt more like a second or third book. I believe if Dennard had fleshed out her world, the witches and made the characters less generic I and Truthwitch may have gotten on better. But alas, that is not so and this book was sadly a waste of my slow turtle-like reading time. But hell, it's gotten so many praises that it seems I'm the odd man out ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Kynndra is currently sad because it has snowed, but she's sure it'll melt soon.