Series: Yes, Witchlands, #1
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars
Synopsis (From Goodreads)
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.
I started out with pretty high expectations. This was one my most anticipated reads for 2016. I had even managed to snag the first two chapters from Netgalley. I steadfastly ignored all reviews on it and continued to inch it up that pedestal. Clearly that wasn’t a bright idea. I know you are wondering why I gave it 4 stars if it had fallen from its high pedestal; allow me to explain.
Starting off we are thrown into some action right away, and I dug it! Safiya and Iseult are two best friends who have depended solely on each other for the last 6 (or something) years. Right away they are running for their lives and it pretty much doesn’t really stop or slow down. This book is really fast paced and for the most part easy to follow.
The world building pretty much wasn’t great. I had a little trouble following along with the magic, the terms, the hierarchy, pretty much everything. I believe I got it eventually, but I have to go with mere instinct and a little bit of common sense to decipher anything about the world; because nothing is explained. Dennard throws us into the middle of this world, with the beginning of a possible war, and we are left to sink or swim in understanding it. It left me a little wary in the beginning, and somewhat frustrated. This was the first mark against the book.
Onto the characters. I loved Safi and Iseult in the beginning. I thought their friendship was strong (if a little obsessive). Together they were really bad-ass and totally complemented each other. That very quickly died as soon as they were separated from each other. It was really hard to genuinely like them when they are apart. Their love for each other quickly goes from admirable to insufferable. Safi especially is hard to stomach at points. She becomes every inch the Domna she claims to not want to be. Devoid of any cares of the people in her surroundings, haughty, and entitled. Needless to say I did not like the two girls once they were separated. Mark two against the book.
Now the men in this book were positively wonderful! They were so well rounded and really developed! Merick and Kullen are Threadbrothers, pretty much the male version of Safi and Isuelt. I loved this bromance so much! Merick on his own and as the romantic interest to Safi is wonderful. He really does settle her. Merick really helps Safi’s character develop. However, Merick is a strong character without Safi and the love interest. Merick is VERY swoon worthy. He has unwavering morals, loyalty to his people and his crew; overall he is one of my favorite characters. Aeduan is another very well done male character! He is morally ambiguous, and there is no telling which way he will steer; although I have my assumptions. Especially regarding a possible romance between him and Iseult.
Despite the rocky beginning, I really got into this book about halfway through. I totally dig it, and I have high hopes for book two, which I think Ms. Dennard will fulfill!
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