Tea & Book Chat: Windwitch by Susan Dennard (Witchlands #2)

Personal Thoughts: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard was one of my favorite books of 2015 (I was lucky enough to read it early thanks to sprinting to the Tor booth on the first day of BEA) so obviously, I was feeling super hyped about reading Windwitch which is the second book in the Witchlands series.  It was one of my most anticipated releases for 2017 (I feel like I might say this a lot but I swear it’s true! I just get really excited about new books, OKAY) and I love the autumnal cover and the prospect of getting Prince Merik’s perspective.  The stars seemed to be aligned until I started reading and everything I loved about Truthwitch was just… missing.  Talk about a major disappointment.  I’m still interested in finding out where the story is going so I will most definitely be picking up Bloodwitch but this was just not the second installment I was looking for.

Plot Summary:  The events in Windwitch are a continuation of the story we got in Truthwitch.  I’ll be totally honest, it’s really difficult to come up with a coherent plot summary for this book because the story completely changed from the first book.  We’ve got Prince Merik who is on a crusade against his sister Princess Vivia.  He’s determined to prove that she has bad intentions and he’s traveling around under a false identity as everyone believes he died when his ship exploded.  Then we’ve got Safi, traveling around with Empress Vaness after also surviving a shipwreck.  Lastly, we’ve got Iseult and Aeduan (the Threadwitch and the Bloodwitch) on a mission to find Safi but getting into antics of their own.

Critique: Where to start? As an overall critique, I have to say that Windwitch was missing just about everything that I loved about Truthwitch.  One of the reasons I was so drawn to the series and why I became so invested to begin with is because of the friendship between Safi and Iseult.  In Truthwitch, we get to see all of these amazing best friend moments between two powerful ladies and then they’re separated for the entirety of book two.  Next, the story is completely sidelined in Windwitch.  There was so much set up for this epic tale in Truthwitch and not a single story line was continued or explored enough in book two.  This is my main issue.  Book two, it really felt like Book one, take two.  There was so much groundwork laid in Truthwitch that I was expecting a lot more action this time around.  While it wasn’t completely unenjoyable to learn about these new situations, the pacing was much slower than in it’s predecessor and I found myself getting bored.  There are also A LOT of narratives to follow.  Windwitch increases to five separate POVs so if there was a particular story line you aren’t as interested in, it feels like it takes forever to get back to the one where your heart is (cough *Iseult and Aeduan* cough).  There were some important strides made during the course of the story and there was a ton of character growth with the exception of Safi.  I also really wish the relationship between Threadbrothers and Threadsisters would’ve been explored further but I’m expecting that’ll be coming in future installments.  So overall, I liked Windwitch (despite all of the complaining I just did), but I just was expecting so much more out of it.  There’s now a TON of buildup between books one and two and I’m just hoping the payoff in the final two books will live up to my expectations.

Do I Recommend?: If you enjoyed Truthwitch as much I did, I would definitely recommend continuing on with the series but I would warn you that the entire feel of the story changes and to not go into it with high expectations.  Hopefully this will have been a necessary addition to what will be an epic fantasy story.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (The Witchlands #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is the first book in a new series called The Witchlands and along with Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger it was tied for my most anticipated 2016 new release.   I’m so happy to say that Truthwitch definitely lived up to the hype surrounding it.  Dennard newest is only the beginning of an epic fantasy in the making and I’m already wishing I had a copy of Windwitch in my hands!  The story follows Safiya and Iseult, a pair of best friends, who are on the run from Safi’s kingdom.  They’re being pursued by numerous parties because of Safi’s ability and they end up aboard a ship captained by Prince Merik.  They’re also attempting to evade an impending war that’s about to break out once the peace treaty expires.  Truthwitch is largely non-stop action from beginning to end.

My favorite part of Truthwitch is definitely the characters.  I love Safi and Iseult’s friendship (they’re referred to as Threadsisters) and I appreciate that their bond is such a central part of the novel.  They continuously rely on each other and even when they’re apart, they’re making decisions with the other girl in mind (although Safi is much more impulsive than Iseult).  The girls are also very diverse from one another and despite Safi’s races prejudice toward Iseult’s people, Safi is always there to defend her.  Throughout the course of the book, the girls are being hunted by Aeduan, a Bloodwitch who is hell bent on revenge.  He is definitely a morally grey character and I loved reading from his perspective.  And then there’s Prince Merik who wants to do what’s best for his people.  I really fell in love with him more and more with each page I read and I completely ship his slow burn romance with Safi.  Their witty banter is to die for!  The best part is that the romance in no way detracts from the Threadsister friendship being the focal point of the story.

Truthwitch

Then we have the world-building, *swoon.*  Admittedly, it took a little bit for me to get really into the world (maybe about 100 pages or so) and it’s only because there is so much information to try to keep track of in the beginning.  While I love that Susan didn’t use the human discovering a fantasy world for the first time to make it easier for the reader trope, it definitely required concentration and re-reading some sections to get a clear picture of how many different type of witches there are.  I’m already anticipating re-reading Truthwitch because I will definitely have to brush up on the world before starting the second book (also it’s amazing and worthy of a re-read anyway).  Safi is a Truthwitch which means that she can tell when someone is lying and her Threadsister Iseult is a Threadwitch which allows her to see the relationships between people.  They’re being hunted by a Bloodwitch which is pretty scary.  He can smell blood and follow it’s scent, but he also has the ability to take control of someone’s blood.  There are a bunch of other types of witches introduced in the story but these are the main ones for now.  Also, I loved / was scared of the Sea Foxes! They sound like they could be cute despite how destructive they are but that was one of my favorite scenes in the book, along with the Lighthouse scene.  (Side note: I also love that it was obvious how influenced Dennard was by Avatar: The Last Airbender).

Final Thoughts: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is a must read for an fantasy fan.  The epic female friendship, incredibly intricate world-building, fascinating magic system, and political intrigue will definitely hook you.  We need more female friendships like Safi and Iseult’s in the world and I cannot wait to continue this series.  Plus, it was influenced by Avatar: The Last Airbender so I needn’t say more!

Rating 6

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. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin