Truthwitch and I are, sadly, not best friends. I honestly feel like it used a lot of words to say nothing at all. AGH. I confess to being a bit of a fantasy snob because I looooove the genre so much. And when you ADORE something, you want the best. But Truthwitch lacked world-building and engaging characters and an interesting plot and I am so frustrated.
Plus this book is hyped. SO HYPED. I feel like every time I went on twitter I was pummelled with promos. But why? It doesn’t even stand out from the hundreds of other YA Epic Fantasies.
ERGO I NEED TO RANT IN A LIST FORM, OKAY? OKAY.
REASONS I’M MONSTROUSLY FRUSTRATED WITH TRUTHWITCH:
- It was enormously confusing. Most fantasies do take a few chapters to get in sync with. BUT I NEVER GOT USED TO HOW CONFUSING THIS BOOK WAS. It feels like a sequel. Like I should already know all the rules of the universe — because nothing is ever explained. There’s no history to the world. There are no rules. There are no explanations. IT JUST IS. (And, peoples, I’ve read Game of Thrones, so if I can survive that confusingness than there’s something wrong here…) There’s this war looming imminently but a) why, b) who’s fighting who, c) why the heck are they fighting…NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE.
- It uses lots of complicated words and names to make up for the fact there’s no world building. Having a ton of specialised cursewords and renaming the deities does NOT equal world building. Where is the world building? WHERE.
- And even when it tried to explain stuff, it still didn’t make sense. For instance:
Though no one knew what made a person cleave, Iseult had read theories that linked the corruption to the five Origin Wells spread across the Witchlands. Each Well was linked to one of the five elements: Aether, Earth, Water, Wind, or Fire. Though people spoke of a Void element — and of Voidwitches like that Bloodwitch — there was no record of an actual Void Well.
Hmmm….sooooo. Basically what you’re saying is: NOBODY UNDERSTANDS THIS WORLD. NOT EVEN THE CHARACTERS IN THE BOOK.
- Also another book using an elemental magic system? Really? You and 348398 others, Truthwitch.
- Although saying “Magic System” is generous because it’s never explained. How does one become a witch? Does everyone have magic? What are their limitations? Sometimes the witches got drained, sometimes they didn’t: Why? Is magic hereditary? What was the most common/useless witch? IS EVERYONE A WITCH?
- As for the actual plot: it’s basically just Safi (a Special Snowflake) being chased all over the universe because everyone wants her. That’s it. That’s the plot. She’s a Truthwitch (one-of-a-kind of course) and they all want her for “political reasons”. FYI, I would want an actually useful witch if I was an Evil Ruler or whatever. Like a witch that could blow things up.
- But Special Snowflake Safi (which alliterates nicely, so that’s a positive) doesn’t even DO anything with her witchly powers! She can tell truth from lie…but she barely does it in the book! She’s just headstrong and whips about with knives drawn and makes HORRIBLE decisions and never listens to advice from those who care about her.
- Basically she is Celanea Sardothian from Throne of Glass. #AwkwardCopyCatMoment (Plus there’s a character named “Aeduan”…which is like a few letters off “Aeidon” from Throne of Glass. I know these authors are BFFs, but still?????)
- I kept hearing that this book featured “a powerful female friendship”. But where was it? Sure Safi and Isuelt are BFFs and “threadsisters” (which I think means they saved each other’s lives so now they’re buddies forever?)…but they really don’t do very much or seem powerfully connected. Iseult spends most of the book being wounded or sick or trapped or blah blah. Safi spends most of the book making stupid decisions and getting everyone hurt. They don’t seem to wither without the other. They don’t even seem to really truly communicate.
- OR MAYBE I’M JUST AN UNFEELING GRAPISH VULCAN WHO CARES FOR NAUGHT. #sorry
- Also far too many POVs. I hate it when fantasies think that they must narrate from all the characters. WE DON’T NEED IT. Mostly we have Safi aand Iseult’s POVs. But then add in Prince Merrick and oh that Bloodwitch named Aeudon. I believe you only need multiple POVs when the storylines are vastly different. With all 4 of them basically doing the same thing…it just was tedious to be bopping heads all the time.
- I was also bored. Yes there was like 89% action…but action without character development and feeling just becomes blah. And they’re all fighting to NOT have this war, but but but whyyyyy. Why does the potential war exist?? Whyyyy do they need Safi? WHO IS ON WHO’S SIDE AND WHAT FOR?
…Woah, Cait! So much negativity! I am sorry about that. It’s so much nicer to enjoy a book…and this is my favourite genre!! I AM DISAPPOINTED IN ME RIGHT NOW. And a smidge disappointed in the book. The things I wanted (engaging female friendship and witches) weren’t really there. And I honestly was so so so sooooo confused.
But good parts? I did like the dialogue and I’m a sucker for proud princes with good intentions. The Bloodwitch (villainish dude) was intensely amazing and I definitely want to know more about him. Plus it has a map. <3333
I’m definitely an unpopular opinion on this one, peoples! Sadness. But that does underline the fact that just because it’s not for me, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not for YOU. So go forth! Read! Compare thoughts with me! In the mean time I shall huddle in my corner of black sheepedness and be sad that this book tried so very forcefully hard and yet missed the awesome factor by at least nine hundred lightyears. This one goes in the “unnecessarily overhyped” basket.
THANK YOU TO PAN MACMILLAN FOR THE REVIEW COPY. Truthwith (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard was published January, 2016.
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
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.