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.
All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom. But 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.
Length: 484 pages
Source: Charity shop
This was my second read of Truthwitch. I initially read it last May (2020) and the review was one of the first that I posted to this blog. And honestly, I think, looking back at that review, I liked it better the first time around. Though I understood it better the second time. Does that balance it out? Not sure.
That first time, I listened to the audiobook, but I didn’t like the accents the narrator did for the characters. They got on my nerves. So I decided to read the paperback copy I own this time. Which I think made it better.
Though the beginning of the story is quite action-packed, the main plot does start late in the book. Or rather, perhaps, I would say that the main plot doesn’t start with a bang. There’s no obvious moment that the characters are drawn into the story. Instead, it sort of meanders into the story. It’s one of those books where I spent half the story waiting for the story to start, and it never really felt like it did.
It is a complicated world, and as I said, I did find it easier to understand on my second read through. The magic is based on elements – so there are earth, water, air, and fire witches. But there are also aether and void witches, which I think are rarer. Safi, one of the main characters, is a Truthwitch, which is really rare, and it’s her power that drives the story. Whereas Iseult, the other main character, is a Threadwitch, so she can see the threads that connect people to each other, and these threads also show the person’s emotions through their colour. I really liked this magic system, it’s one of the strengths of the book for me.
I also liked both of the main characters, Safi and Iseult. They’re best friends, and would do anything for each other. It was really lovely to see a strong female friendship in a YA novel that didn’t turn nasty in any way. They just genuinely love each other as if they were sisters.
The one character I didn’t like was Merick, the one male point of view character in the novel. He’s a prince of one of the countries in the Witchlands, and he’s arrogant. I found his perspective to be unpleasant to read. He’s a bit of a brooding hero type – think Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre. Especially towards the end of the story, he certainly doesn’t come across as a character who respects women or their feelings/desires.
The one big thing that let Truthwitch down for me was the writing. I don’t like Susan Dennard’s writing style. I don’t think I noticed this as much when listening on audio the first time I read it, but reading it physically this time really highlighted the overly-simplistic writing style. Writing style is something that is completely subjective, different readers like different styles. But the writing in this is very simple, and it tells over showing much more than I personally like. There are also words like ‘boom!’ thrown in, to emphasise a loud noise. I just didn’t like it.
Overall, I think Truthwitch has a really interesting world and magic system, with two strong female leads, but is let down for me personally by Merick and the writing style. I would recommend it if you’re looking for a strong female relationship, and you don’t mind the brooding hero types and a simplistic writing style.