Book Review: TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard

My Plot Summary:

Safi (Safiya) and Iseult are Threadsisters who have lived their lives in relative peace, if you ignore the occasional gambling and knife fights. Both are running, in their own ways, from their pasts as a noblewoman and as a hated race, respectively. They both seek a future of freedom. But, when Safi’s rare and powerful Witchery, Truthwitchery, is uncovered by a Bloodwitch the hunt for her is on and powerful players are quick on her trail. With the help of Prince Merik, second child of a starving and barren nation on the brink of death, Safi is taken across the sea in the pursuit of that freedom. But her pursuers are not so easily dissuaded and, in a world full of those who would use her, there’s no safe place to turn.

My Review:

There is an elegant ease to the way this book is strung together (no pun on threads intended). Dennard commands her story masterfully, weaving in elements and plot points with skillful precision. It makes the process of reading the story of equal joy as the story itself.

In this way, Truthwitch is the perfect package, firing on all cylinders. It’s the right combination of exceptional writing, effortless story development, engaging characters, flawless pacing, and world-building of the highest caliber. There is something here for everyone and it’s all tied together with a lovely bow on top.

From the first chapter, we meet our heroines – not one, but two. Safi and Iseult are dynamic, engaging, beautifully flawed, and strong. In Safi, the reader is taken through a coming of age tale. In Iseult, we are presented with a more self-realized character. Someone who knows what she wants while still being heartbreakingly insecure about the things that matter most. I contend that anyone with a soul would find a connection to each of the trials these young women go through.

The rest of the cast is equally colorful and dynamic. They shift in the reader’s perception as effortlessly as Dennard shifts between points of view. From Leopold, the prince who appears as nothing more than a pretty face but whispers of greater power by the end of the book. To a warrior empress. To Prince Merik, the desperately loyal prince fighting for everything he believes in. (And is swoon-worthy to boot)

Characters I thought I would hate I ended up loving. They exist in very real shades of grey to the point in which you question everyone, can sympathize with anyone, and are completely unsure of who can be trusted. In short, they are real.

The world they live in is equally vibrant. From the language Dennard uses to the various locations and cultures. It transports the reader and offers a gripping new reality to dive into. It’s a place that begs to be explored without feeling overwhelming. A quiet whisper to the reader between flipping pages that is more enchanting by the chapter. What I assume to be Dennard’s influences and homages (like Avatar, the Last Airbender) are apparent while still being completely her own.

Foremost, this is a gripping tale that will make you feel. It is one that has me groaning in agony that I read it, only because the next one now feels SO FAR away. If you’re a reader who enjoys YA Fantasy this must be on your to be read list this year.


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