Series: The Witchlands, #1
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Length: 416 pages | 14 hours 43 minutes
Source: Won from The Book Addict’s Guide (thanks again!)
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.
I LOVE when a book lives up to its hype (at least for me). I won the hardcover, but listened to the audiobook because the narrator is fantastic with accents and voices. And she did not disappoint with this one! I hope she narrates the audiobook of book 2, which I will for sure be listening to/reading.
This story has layers- there’s a lot of character development and character-driven story (with showing, not telling, thank goodness), but there are also a lot of subtle mysteries woven in (like the sea foxes- which remind me strongly of Robin Hobb’s novels- a compliment to Susan Dennard- and which I loved and an curious about). From the first chapter I found myself loving Safiya and Iseult, who share a strong bond of friendship but are quite different. I related more to Safiya, but in a lot of ways Iseult felt more accessible. Audean (pronunced like Edwin, but with “A” instead of “Eh” at the beginning) was a wonderful surprise- I lovedy love morally grey characters, and I have some THEORIES about the Raider King and the Puppetmaster. Also, the sexual tension between Merik and Safiya was delicious (and felt like genuine chemistry).
This is a bit of an ensemble cast, with every mentioned character playing a role in some way. Some had brief moments on stage, and others are coming and going. But none feel pointless or shallow. And although the ending is not a cliffhanger, the mysteries are just opening up….so it leaves you wanting more.
Overall, I recommend this to fans of fantasy. If you like fantasy novels, especially well-paced, immersive ones, you should read this. And then tell me what kind of witch you’d be.