Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Review: Truthwitch

Title: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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 (goodreads).

Oh, this is awkward. I can't even blame the hype for this one. 

Plot: Safi is an unregistered Truthwitch which is a bad thing ( I think). Along with her Threadsister, Iseult, she is thrust into a struggle between two kingdoms that are at the end of a very precarious truce. 

My problems with Truthwitch, unfortunately, started from the beginning. Dennard drops us into her world - which is very detailed and fascinating - without a guidebook. We are given a bunch of terms and a situation without any real context. Who are these people? Where are we? Why should I care? With so much information and not enough explanation, I grew frustrated and nothing could save the book for me at that point. Come page 100, I was just skimming paragraphs, and my interest never piqued. The second half definitely has a lot more action than the first half, but by then it was too late for me.

Characters: Like a lot of young adult fantasy novels, Truthwitch is told from alternating perspectives. We follow the adventures of Safiya, Iseult, Merik, and a Bloodwitch. Alternating perspectives is a hit or miss in books because distinct voices can be hard to capture. Truthwitch is one of those misses. Safi and Iseult's voice flow into each other, and I often had times telling them apart. 

Worldbuilding: Dennard's world is expanse with a lot of history and even prejudices. I know I'm repeating myself, but I really wish that more time had been taken to explain the world and its cultures to the reader. I loved the concept of people having control over different affinities, but the concept alone wasn't enough for a perfect execution. 

Short and Sweet: Truthwitch suffers from the dreaded info dump, which is a disappointment because the creativity and the worldbuilding are really special. 


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