By: Susan Dennard
Release Date: January 5th, 2016 (US), January 14th, 2016 (UK)
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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.
Full Spoiler-Free Review
To begin, I just want to say a huge thank you to Pan Macmillan/Tor UK for sending me out an ARC of this book. It was such an unexpected thing to show up on my doorstep just a few days before Christmas. This book was one of my most anticipated of 2016, so I was so happy to get a chance to read it a few weeks early!
I’ve literally just finished reading this book, and honestly, all I can say in this moment is that TRUTHWITCH is just EPIC. It’s everything that I really wanted it to be; it’s a really strong fantasy world, it’s got phenomenal world building, the characters are all so well done. Honestly, it’s just great. You all need to make sure that you don’t miss out on this book when it comes out (tomorrow, ah!). For those who don’t know, TRUTHWITCH takes place in the Witchlands — on a continent on the edge of war — and follows two young girls who find themselves wrapped up right in the middle of a very tense political situation, all the while trying to evade being captured by a Bloodwitch. Things are especially difficult for Safiya fon Hasstrel, who is a Truthwitch, and if captured by any of the major players in the continents impending war, could potentially be used in a very dangerous way as she can tell when people are telling the truth or lying.
Don’t get me wrong, while the book felt like it was perfect, there were a few things that I didn’t really get into, predominantly in that if you’re just deciding to pick this book up on a whim, you have to be prepared for a lot. When I started reading this book, I wasn’t really ready for just how much information was going to be dumped on me and how much I was going to have to try and remember as I tried to put together all the different parts of the book; from the different places (made a little easier with the stunning map at the front of the book), to the different kinds of witcheries, to what it means to be cleaved. (I’m still kind of working on that last one, to be honest.) I know that it’ll be different for everyone, but for me, the first hundred or so pages were a bit of a struggle to understand; I was following the general storyline alright, but I had to pull out a notebook and take some notes in order to piece everything together. However, what that has done, though, is set an immensely strong foundation for the series to grow on. Now that we’ve had this first book to set everything up and get us familiar with the world and all of its fantastical elements, it’ll be so interesting to see where the next books take us!
Honestly, though, that’s me hunting for things to say about this book that don’t follow a trend of; OH MY ROWLING THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. There were so many things to really just adore; the four viewpoint characters are following generally the same over-arching story, but they each have their own individual arc to deal with, and they are all thought-provoking and exhilarating in themselves. I won’t get into specifics, but I think I enjoyed Isuelt’s story the best, and I think she might be my favourite character! (By the end I just wanted to give her a hug and a cup of tea and tell her that everything is going to be alright.) From beginning to end, the tension between the different empires and countries are very high, and if you’re even slightly interested by political aspects in fantasy books, then you’re going to love this. And, just to add a little extra spice of awesome, there’s a pretty cool naval — *cough* pirate-y *cough* — aspect too. A huge chunk of the book takes place at sea, finding Safi and Isuelt stuck in between a rock and a hard place… and with a giant, epic, sea creature known as a sea fox tearing apart their boat. Guys, it’s pretty epic. It’s pretty pretty epic.
I can’t forget to mention; the book concludes with 100 of the most thrilling pages I’ve read in years, leaving on an ending which has me rocking back and forth impatiently waiting for the sequel.
And, last but not least, I can’t write a review of this book without taking a special little moment to talk about one of the things that just makes this book so… so special. Safiya fon Hasstrel and Isuelt det Midenzi. Threadsisters to the end. Their friendship is so beautifully crafted, full of love and childish squabbles, full of saving each others lives while at the same time bickering about how they got into danger anyway. They are, in every way, the new definition of ‘Friendship Goals’.
Please do me a favour, and get this book on your 2016 TBR. Buy it when it comes out. Read it the day later. Re-read it the day after you finish. I’m definitely going to be re-reading it over the year, because I know that there is probably so much that I missed, and a lot that I’ll be able to understand better now that I’ve read through it once and have a better grip of the world, the countries, and the magic system!