Review: Truthwitch

Posted January 4, 2016

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Truthwitch Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Published by Tor UK on 14th January 2016 (UK), 5th January 2015 (US)
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

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.

Safi is a Truthwitch. Her witchery allows her to tell if people are telling the truth. She is also a Domna of Cartorra, heir to the Hasstnel Estate where her drunken Uncle currently reigns as regent.

Safi has spent her life hiding her witchery and for the past six years she has studied and trained in Venaza City. It was in Venaza City that Safi met her Threadsister Iseult, a Nomatsi Threadwitch, and the two are inseparable.

The end of the 20 Year Truce is fast approaching and so representatives from most nations (including Nubrevna’s Prince Merik) have gathered in the City to negotiate the future of the land. However it seems that the Cartorra Emperor has his own agenda.

Before I even launch into my thoughts on this book let me share something – I’ve now read it twice… in two months… this isn’t something that I’d normally do!

In fact this book triggered a huge reading slump for me. I enjoyed it so much, was so caught up in the world, in the story, that everything else I read afterwards was “meh” so I read Truthwitch again!

Ok, so now you know that I loved it, let me tell you a couple of reasons why I loved it.

The world. While at first all the various countries overwhelmed me a little, with the aid of the map (have I ever mentioned how much I love a good map? 😉 ) I was soon up to speed. Dennard has created a fascinating world with a fantastic magic system. All witches have a certain type of magic – where Safi’s is a Truthwitch, Isueult’s witchery is a Threadwitch. She can see the “threads” of others. These threads show the emotions of others, with different colours representing different emotions and intensity of colour an indication of the strength of those emotions. These “threads” were something I was really taken by in this book. It’s these threads that form the basis of friendship and love. The threads weave their way through the lives of the characters, bonding with others around them.

Which leads me to friendship. Safi and Iseult are Threadsisters, they have a special bond whereby they will do anything for the other. I found it refreshing to read a book with such a heavy basis on friendship (Threadsisters and Threadbrothers). It’s also a book that isn’t romance heavy. Yes there’s some chemistry between characters but it’s not the main relationship explored in the book.

The final thing I want to mention is how Dennard tackles racism in this book. Iseult is Nomatsi, from a clan of nomads. Her skin and hair colours denote her as such, and lead to her being verbally abused and spat on in the streets. There is very much a message here that is crafted around the story itself.

Between trickery, heists, friendship, magic, ships, legend and war there is so much in this book to love. Great world-building and a sassy central character all make for a fantastic read. Everything seems nicely set up for book two and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!