Author: Susan Dennard
Series? Yes. 1 of 4 (?)
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have to be frank, the twitter promotion of Truthwitch had me very nervous about this book. I thought, surely, nothing is that good – my cynicism stemmed from a 2015 burned out from hype. Nonetheless, the day it was released, I sneaked onto Kindle and snagged myself a copy. My fears were alleviated, Truthwitch was a memorable read – filled with characteres I could root for. While I had minor issues with some of the relationships and plot points, I could see myself becoming a loyal follower of the Witchland series.
The Chosen Pair
“I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.”
The lack of central female friendship in fiction is frustratingly prevalent. We live in an age where movies are still getting a pat on the back for passing a rudimentary Bechdel’s test, for Chrissake! Truthwitch features a steadfast and crucial friendship between two fierce ladies, for that it won a lot of points in my book. When it’s hinted that the Classic Chosen One trope has been tweaked in favour of a Chosen pair of friends? My heart can’t take it, where has this storyline been all my life?!
While I wish we got to know more about the history between Safiya and Iseult – some thing to make sense of their undying fevotion to one another – I enjoyed their dynamics very much. The girls bounced off one another seamlessly. I love their complimentary nature and seeing how they instinctively understood one another. For once, I find myself invested in the friendship rather than romantic ships.
There are also great groundwork laid out in this novel for future conflicts between Safiya and Iseult. Although they’re already partners in all ways, I am excited to see how the weight of destiny will challenge their relationship.
Then the music swelled once more, her legs twined into his, and he forgot all about who she was or what she was or why he had begun the dance in the first place. Because those eyes of hers were the color of the sky after a storm.
In contrast to the compelling friendship between the leads, the romantic entanglements in Truthwitch falls a little flat. Safiya shares a budding romance with Prince Merik, a connection which forms rather haphazardly. Lust passes for a special and instant connection, complete with a magical wind hailing its presence. Although the text constantly reminds us they are intrigued by one another, their interactions are primarily filled with miscommunication and outright verbal (and physical) sparring. I do like that their conflicts are genuine, rather than the usual ‘witty banter’. I also appreciate that no one’s claiming people to be the love of their life by the end of the book – so maybe there’s hope yet for the pairing.
The other pairing featured is one I am more interested in, as I tend to favour Iseult’s POV anyway. There’s an irresistible and dangerous edge to the whole thing, and I don’t quite know which path it’ll take. Besides, don’t you just love the dramatic potential of life-debts. I look forward to seeing where Susan Dennard will take this relationship in future volumes.
Witchery of All Kinds
“Each Well was linked to one of the five elements: Aether, Earth, Water, Wind, or Fire.”
I am impressed with the sheer volume of worldbuilding in Truthwitch. Within this book alone, we encounter at least a dozen types of witches: from the rare Truthwitch to the more commonplace Threadwitch. There are multitude of elemental witches, a nice call back to the author’s love for Avatar: The Last Airbender. Indeed, a couple of the moves in a Windwitch’s arsenal gives me serious airbender vibes! I love that it allows for such dynamic action scenes and account for infinite possibilities.
I also love the threads that bind all of the forces together in Witchland. While it’s not an entirely novel concept, it’s used deftly in this book to depict both human relationships and potential plot hijinks. The jargon in this book also begs to be widely used once the series develops its own fandom, with my favourite being Threadsisters!
However, once we delve a little below the surface, the world building quickly crumbles. Aside from numerous names and basic traits – both the countries and witchclans in the novel are devoided of any clear customs. I have little doubt the world will be expanded in future books.
Overall, Truthwitch is a promising start to a compelling young adult fantasy. Although it at times fall trap to the usual YA trope, there are enough unique elements to engage and intrigue most readers.