Publication: January 5, 2016 by Tor Teen
Source: My amazing friend, Tzivi at Cookie Addictions, got an ARC at BEA and let me borrow it. Thank you!
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.
This was one of my most highly anticipated upcoming books. The premise sounds awesome, I have read and enjoyed Susan Dennard's other books, so I couldn't help but get super pumped for this one. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed!
The world Dennard creates is imaginative, complex, and developed. The writing is detailed and vivid, making it easy for me to visualize the setting and characters, which is a big plus. Especially with this type of book, I need to be able to see and imagine what this world looks like. I always love good descriptions of characters, it makes them feel more real and helps me connect to them.
The two main characters, Safiya and Iseult, are fun and endearing. Each one has their own unique personality. I loved learning about them and seeing how they complement each other. Throughout the story there are times when they are separated, allowing the reader to get to know more about their individual history and personality. Instead of just telling the reader about where these girls came from, the author actually shows us a little glimpse. It really helps to round out the characters in an entertaining way.
There are some wonderful side characters as well. I especially enjoyed Prince Merik, the ship captain, a very interesting character. The great thing about the side characters is their questionable motivations. The reader and characters don't always know what the other characters are after or what their intentions truly are, it's always a question of trust. Also, a lot of the time, the characters don't even know what they themselves want to do. This makes for very intriguing internal struggles and tense character dynamics.
The writing switches points of view between many different characters. I usually like this type of writing, but it didn't completely work for me in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Safiya and Iseult's POVs, but some of the others didn't exactly click. I think it was more a matter of timing.
This book started off slow for me, it took a while to get into it. I would finally start understanding what was going on and get excited about the plot, and then it would switch point of view to someone I didn't really care for. It would just kill the mood for me and make me want to set the book down.
It took me a very long time to get through the first half. Things start getting more exciting after the first 100 pages because the world starts making more sense and coming together, and then I felt like it took another 100 pages for the plot to really pick up and hit its stride.
It could be that I wasn't in the mood for fantasy and the effort it takes to follow along and understand the complexity. The writing, while vivid and descriptive, could also be somewhat dense. In the first half, it was hard for me to read a big portion in one sitting.
However, in the second half, I felt everything come together and the switching points of view excited the plot instead of hindering it. The writing style uses this technique to develop the world in a 'showing' way instead of 'telling', which I definitely appreciate. It just seemed to slow things down in the beginning and kept it from grabbing my attention.
By the end of the book, I really knew these characters and grasped the world. I loved seeing the characters grow throughout this adventure. There is an intense, slow burning romance that drove me crazy in a good way and I loved it. It added just the right amount of spice to the story. This ended up being a pretty epic tale and the end left me dying for more, too bad I have to wait until 2017!
If you don't mind a slow start and taking the time to learn a somewhat complicated magic system and world, this is definitely a great fantasy read.
Thank you again to Tzivi for letting me borrow this book, you're the best!