Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

*SPOILERS ARE MARKED*

Description (from Goodreads):

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

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.

Title: Truthwitch

Author: Susan Dennard (Queen!)

Page Count: 416

Series: The Witchlands (book 1)

How I Got This Book: Bought

My review:

I just want to start this review by saying that this is quite honestly the BEST book that I have read since Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Divergent. AKA, the books that got me into reading avid YA nearly 3 years ago. In this review I am going to tell you all of my thoughts on this book. This review will be long, this review will be detailed, but this review will be honest. I adored this novel and I think that Susan Dennard deserves, like, a million dollars and all of the awards and a library full of books. With that said, let us go forth and try to create coherent words for the reviewing of Truthwitch.

So this book was in my Most Exciting Releases of 2016 post. (So once you have finished reading this review be sure to go and check that out!) But anyways, I was at Barnes and Nobles, 2 or 3 days before this book came out, casually browsing the shelves. When I turn the corner and there, staring at me, was Truthwitch. So I had to abandon the preorder idea and I bought it then. I started it a half an hour later. And thus begins my undying love for the Witchlands.

As per usual, the first part of this review is going to be spoiler free so that all of you who haven’t read Truthwitch yet can still read a part of this review. But seriously, you need to go read this book. I won’t stop telling you to read this book until you go and read this book. So go read this book. But without further ado, I’m just going to jump right into this review.

I know that I already talked a bit about how much I love this book, but seriously. There was just something the characters, the feel of this story, the world, and a million other tiny things that made this book just right for me. This is just my kind of book. Susan had a great idea, and then she executed to perfection.

On a more coherent note, I’m going to talk about the world that this book took place in. The world is just so rich. Every little detail has been planned out. That said, the first hundred pages or so were a bit confusing. There is so much to learn that it gets slightly overwhelming, but then there is this moment where it all just clicks and things come to together like puzzle. The way that this world was presented, as well the consistency of every landscape, ocean, and mountain, made this world seem so realistic. As if, every time I opened this book, reality disappeared and the Witchlands just were. This world, in so many ways, felt just a stone-toss away, even if it was fiction.

Next I want to talk about the characters in this book. They seemed to come to life, adding to that coming-off-the-page feeling. Each person had so much depth, presented as a clear picture that just got clearer from the first page, instead of starting blurry and ending up clear. Everything about these characters was immersive and believable, tying everything together as if this were a true story. The way that these characters processed situations and figured things out shows very clearly that nobody here is the dumb one. Everybody was so fully propelled by their motivation that each and every character was sharp, observant, and full of swirling emotions.

Intertwined with all of these other things, are feelings and elements and layers to the story that bled into the story making this book a big giant mass of a thousand things. Some of my favorite elements were that the friendship took over everything else. The romance took a back seat to the near point of disappearing and the friendship stayed strong through-out the entire book. I will talk more about the point of this story, relationship wise. And that is not even touching on all of the smaller things blew me away, like the fact that book was funny. Every few pages I would find myself laughing out loud or at least chuckling internally.

This book was heartbreaking at times, making a few tears make their way down my face. It was explosive at times, blowing me away and gluing my eyes to the pages, physically needing to know what comes next. Everything about this book and this world was so rich, so alive that I could almost see the things happening. But most of all, this book was dramatic. Almost theatrically so. There was always something that kept me guessing or kept me turning pages. Not a forced drama, even, just dramatic. I think that it is because this world felt so alive to me that everything felt so strong, happening of its own accord and the not the authors.

The last thing that I want to talk about before I get into spoilers, is the language use in this book. I’m not talking about bad language, but the way that characters spoke, the way that characters thought to themselves, and the way that the characters communicated. From simply the fantastical, medieval-like word usage to the way that the two main best friends sent messages back and forth through a carefully hinting code. And, I mean, who needs a cellphone when you have a Voicewitch?

Okay, so that is going to be it for the spoiler free section of my review. Be sure to leave a comment down below this post telling me what you are most excited about for when you read Truthwitch. Please give this post a like, a share, and follow my blog by email to get notified when I post more things like this! It really, truly helps me to be able to continue to write reviews like this one. If you want to see my overall rating, as well as a Goodreads link, the comments, and other goodies, scroll PAST the spoiler section (if you don’t want to be spoiled) to get to the veeeery bottom of this post!

See YA at that bottom!

*SPOILERS BEGIN HERE.THE JANA IS COMING INTO PORT AND ITS CARRYING A TON OF SPOILERS. THE SEA FOX OF SPOILERS IS COMING UP FOR ATTACK NOW, RUN PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK. SAVE YOURSELF. AND GO READ THE BOOK*

Welcome to the spoiler section!

First off, I want to talk about some of my favorite scenes in this book, because…well, just because. The first scene that I want to talk about isn’t really a full scene. It’s more of a very short conversation. But it had me laughing for so long and I don’t even know why. And that is the part when all of our main characters are in Noden’s Gift. Specifically, however, when Safi and Merik are up in the captain’s quarters and they are (sort-of) flirting. And basically Safi says something like “Oh look, it has a sense of humor.” And Merik goes “Oh look, it’s trying to change the subject.” I was just doubled over and I just love this part so much. If you’ve read this book, which obviously you have if you read this part of the review, you will know this part. I just thought that this conversation was so charming and funny.

The next scene I want to discuss is the part when Aeduan is negotiating finding Domna Safiya with Henrick and Leopold and the like. He gets his money, he makes the deal that he will find her, and then he, in his head, is thinking something along the lines of “With all that talk of finding the domna, none mentioned bringing her back.” I was sitting in Barnes and Nobles when I read that part and I gasped out loud. Thankfully, I only got a few weird looks. I don’t know why this shocked me so much. But my brain just kept going “Aeduan, you sneaky monster.”

And then, narrowing down my list of favorite parts to three, the last “favorite scene that I want to talk about now is the SEA FOX ATTACK. I was up at 6 am reading that part and I swear I hardly blinked for half an hour because I could physically NOT.STOP.READING. The suspense and action and unique creatures all playing together and turned into something that was so right up my alley that it would have been impossible for me not to like that scene.

Now I want to start talking about relationships. There are three relationships specifically that I want to talk about before I start talking about each character. The first is Merik and Safi. I read a few reviews in prep for writing my own and I see that a few people thought that Merik and Safi had total insta-love. I disagree. I thought that the way their relationship played out was a slow burning relationship that, up until the very moment that they kissed could have turned into an undying love or a murderous hate. I loved the way that they both sort of felt a rush of attraction at the dance, but then when they started to get to know each other’s true personalities they were like “Yeah, maybe. But probably not.” I just loved that for once in a book there was so much going on the world that the romance didn’t need to be there for the story to have layers, and yet there was still a little bit because a book without even a little romance is pretty much a book wasted. 😉 (I also loved that Merik’s powers acted up every time he was around Safi and he tells Kullen this and Kullen will just have none of that.)

And then we have another ship, probably my biggest ship, of this entire book. And that is Iseult and Aeduan. I know. I KNOW. I realize that they haven’t exactly had any romantic moments, but the second Iseult said “No. I don’t think you will.” When he threatened to kill her I know my little fangirl heart would not be silenced. I feel like there is a chance for romance with these characters and I want it so much. I love how they are more…interested and intrigued by each other than romantically attracted at this point. I feel that will make for a really cool relationship later on in the books. (Hopefully.)
And then, of course, we have the relationship that this book centers around. The glorious friendship between Safi and Iseult. This friendship was unlike any of the other frienships that I have read about in YA books. This friendship was real and deep and genuine. Not petty and fleeting and full of constant misunderstandings. Instead of being mad at Safi for putting her in danger, Iseult helped her fight their way out of it, side by side. Instead of taking Iseult’s injury as a burden, Safi risked her life and her relationship to save her. This friendship is one that cannot be broken easily. And also the Char Awen thing. That’s pretty dang awesome.

Now I want to talk about the characters. Since there are so many awesome ones, I am not going to talk for an hour about each one because this review is already going to be 8 miles long.

So starting off with one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, character. Evrane. I loved the way that she always put her foot down. She was strong and smart and nearly unshakable. But when she saw her homeland restored, she showed that no matter kick-butt and stone hard she was, she still felt things and cared about things.
And then of course we have the mains. Starting with Safi. Safi was everything that I love in a protagonist. She was confident, but had moments of doubt and weakness. She knew what she had to do and she was afraid, but she did it anyway. I thought that she was a really great base for this story and I can’t even say enough about how much I loved her character.

Iseult. Iseult is really tied with Evrane for favorite character. Iseult was an epic fighter and a silent, strong thinker. The way that she chose to deal with the Pupeteer haunting her on her own really showed that even though her and Safi where Threadsisters, they were still their own people who could make their own choices, no matter how dumb those choices were.

And then we come to Merik. I thought that he was really charming, actually. He was a little blunt, very stubborn, and a little (or a lot) rough around the edges, but I see potential. He really added a lot to the story. He was willing to do anything for those that he was sworn to protect and he cared for his country with such tact that I couldn’t help but admire him.

Oh, Auden. I know I pronounce his name wrong. (I say: Odd-den.) I loved how at first, we see him through the eyes of Safi and Iseult. There was such fear surrounding him and I was scared of him. He was this soulless creature from the void. And then we see his Point of View. And he’s just this dude. Who has intimidating powers and likes to use that to his advantage. I actually ended up really liking Auden. I thought his character was so interesting because we see him through so many different POV’s that he seems like he is so much of a monster, and then he’s not. He’s just…him. *heart eyes*

Raise your hand if you cried when Kullen died? I did. I thought his character was so funny and with his lanky form and comic relief mixed with all that power made me just immediately love this dude. When he started having lung troubles my heart started skipping beats. No matter how brave and selfless and honorable Kullen is, no matter all of the funny moments and sweet/cute/friendly moments, I will never not cry (during future rereads of this book, because that is a given that will happen.) when Merik goes “As your prince and as your admiral I command you not to do this.” And Kullen goes “And as your Threadbrother, I choose not to listen.” I just…I JUST CAN’T.

Also Leopold. When he was getting jealous of Merik and Safi at the dance thing, I already sort of thought he was sort of stuck up, but when betrayed my baby, Auden, by the Origin Well, I was ready to lose it. I wanted nothing more than to punch him very hardly in the face.

Now onto the last two characters, I don’t really have too much to say about them, other than I think that they will both be getting bigger roles come Windwitch (book 2) and I want to sort of share my initial thoughts before then. So the Empress of Marstok. (I think that’s right.) I thought that shew as so kick-butt! With that flail that kept getting bigger and her iron-witch powers. I just thought that she was so cool, even if she isn’t on the side of our main characters. I loved being able to see both sides of her. When she is all composed in her quarters, putting up with the whiney prince and then BOOM all of sudden she’s in fighting gear and a black, Marstok scarf. The fact that she was willing to go undercover, get her hands dirty, was something that I thought really added to my perception of this character.

And last, and probably least, we have the Puppeteer. I cannot even explain to you how much she creeps me out! The fact that she is so nonchalant about enslaving this army of dead people to do her bidding was just mind-blowingly insane. And then she has this delusion that Iseult is her friend. Like, no! You have been invading her thoughts and using her mind without permission to take over the entire world. That is not friendship, you lunatic! (Also when she said that she was working for the raider king and then we find out that the raider king is Auden’s dad. It was then that I knew things were spiraling down a massive, massive hole.)

And that brings me to one of the last things that I want to talk about for this book. There were quite a few creepy moments. The way that this book blended in the eerie with the funny with the nail-biting action had me hooked. So let me tell you about my two favorite creepy moments from Truthwitch. So both of these moments had me reading late into the night because I knew that if I stopped mid scene I would have nightmares for the rest of my life.

The first one is…Drum roll pease! *drtlrtlrtlrtltlrlrtllltlrlrlrlrlrrrrrrrrr* (because that’s what a drum sounds like obviously) When Iseult is trying to escape the Nomatsi tribe and all of a sudden we are being mobbed by this cult. And they were all chanting this creepy puppeteer thing and ripping and poking and stabbing at Iseult. I mean, this is all that one dude’s fault. I bet he’s working with the puppeteer. (I can’t remember his name. but the guy who liked Iseult’s mom.) AND THEN ISEULT STARTS CHANTING BACK ABOUT THREADS THAT BREAK AND DIE. ARE YOU TRYING TO GET YOURSELF IN MORE TROUBLE?! I was literally on the edge of my seat and I just could hardly even handle all of the insanity.

And then there is the Cleaved zombie apocalypse thing. It was the big climax of thee book and it was so creepy! But in that fun way. I don’t like creepy things, but I loved the way that this was done. It was like this whole new thing just became real in this world. The puppeteer is this far away threat that we can deal with later and then all of a sudden here are a million cleaved on order of the puppeteer. Prepare to die now. But we got more Auden/Iseult in this part of the book so I am the farthest thing from complaining.

Okay so we have finally reached the end of my full, extended review of Truthwitch! I realize that this review was quite a bit longer than my normal review (those are long, too. But not this long!) Trust me, I have been writing this all day. I know how long it is. This book just excites me so much! Sometimes it feels like I’ve already read all of my favorite books and nothing will ever be as good, so what’s the point. This is the point. This book is one in a million. The first book that I’ve read in a long time that meets up to the hype, even surpasses it. I may do “Crazy Theories” post for book two with all of the things that I think may happen, I’m not sure yet. I just want to do everything ever that has to do with this book. I can seriously not wait for book two!!! (Susan Dennard said that the next few books will be full of romance, DRAGONS – yes, dragons! – and even more awesome friendship! So basically I need it immediately)

Be sure to tell me in the comments if you agree with any of the things that I said in this review, or if you disagree. I would love to hear your thoughts on this book! And if you have review on your blog/booktube leave the link down below and I will be sure to check it out ASAP! If you comment anything with spoilers be sure to tag it so that none of the non-Witchlanders get spoiled!

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*SPOILERS END HERE. NO MORE SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON! THE SPOILER FOXES HAVE REATREATED – FOR NOW – SO COME BACK WHILE YOU STILL CAN!*

Thank you one and all for sticking around for that whole review! If you can’t tell, I love Truthwitch with every fiber of my being.

My overall rating: 10 out of 5 stars. (because this my blog and I can do what I want to with my stars.)

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I will have another post up soon, so I will see you then!

See YA!

-Jamie