Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

– Short Review –

The first of a trilogy this is witchcraft but not in the traditional sense of casting spells around a cauldron.  More of a fantasy novel, the story follows the travels of Safi and Iseult a pair of Threadsisters.  Each has their own individual power but together their destiny is greater than they know and the future of The Witchlands could well be in their hands.
If you enjoyed Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton you’ll enjoy this.

– Longer Review –

The first instalment of a series is always a tricky beast as you have to set the scene of the world the tale is based in as well as introduce a host of characters.  For this reason, I felt a bit lost for the first 100 or so pages of this book – as it hits the ground running and there are so many ideas/themes thrown at the reader that it’s a bit hard to keep up.
Iseult and Safiya are young witches, each with their own individual abilities.  Iseult can see people’s “threads” which allows her to see how they are feeling whilst Safiya (Safi) is a rare Truthwitch who, as the name suggests, can discern truth from lies.
They live in The Witchlands which is on the edge of war as a 20 year truce is about to end.  Various empires within the land are starting to position themselves to take power and a Truthwitch would be a valuable asset.
The girls form a powerful partnership and go on the run so that Safi can avoid capture.
With any story that involves people on the run, this results in a good old cat and mouse chase tale.  Prince Merik has entered into a deal to deliver Safi to a safe destination – in return for a trade deal for his country.  He and his Threadbrother, Kullen, are Windwitches and can control breath and storms, which comes in quite handy when travelling by ship.
Meanwhile Aeduan, a Bloodwitch, and Carawen Monk is also on their tail as he has been tasked with capturing them before they reach safety.
I found that the book got easier to read the further I got, once you start to understand the characters and their powers/motivations.
There is an interesting spark of attraction between Safi and Prince Merik and the relationship between Safi and Iseult is fierce, strong and written in the fates (not that they know it).
The story ends on a suitable cliffhanger that makes the reader curious to know what comes next.  It’s quite a long novel (479 pages) and it undoubtedly becomes much more interesting in the final third of the book so if any reader finds they are struggling with the book at the beginning it is worth persevering!
My biggest irritation was not knowing how on earth to pronounce Iseult and it was a constant jarring note for me.  For anyone reading this book I suggest you refer to YouTube first where there is a handy short video from Susan Dennard which gives you a run down on how to pronounce the main characters’ names!
Truthwitch is published by Tor and is available here.
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Susan Dennard

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Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world – six out of seven continents (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!) – before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the Witchlands series, which includes the New York Times bestselling Truthwitch and Windwitch. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her Xbox, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Reviewed by Angela Paull

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