Read this if you’re in the mood for: young adult fantasy, friendships, feminism, general badassery, world-building, character development, multiple POV, magic
Summary: 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 Safiya’s hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safiya 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 privateer) 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.
Read this if you like:
SHADOW AND BONE / Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
The various types of "witchery" in TRUTHWITCH are reminiscent of the different orders of the Grisha -- and they all seem pretty awesome!
THE KISS OF DECEPTION / The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson (links to my recommendation)
Both books show the power of female friendship and involve political machinations.
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
Prophecies a go-go! Like FIRE AND THORNS, TRUTHWITCH is about discovering the true extent of your inner strength and magic, and deciding who you are when everyone is telling you who they want you to be.
First and foremost, this book is about the threadsister bond between Safi and Iseult, and I just LOVED it. Their friendship is incredible, specifically the unwavering trust in and support for each other. Each is willing to fight and die for the other, and they defend each other fiercely, whether in battle or against prejudice. And they're FUNNY; it's so clear and wonderful how they find joy and love in one another. The two girls couldn't be more different, but one is the yin to the other's yang, and they allow that balance of strengths and weaknesses to make them stronger together than apart. Safi and Iseult come from very different worlds, but each girl's backstory gives a depth of character that strengthens their bond.
The supporting characters were also standout, specifically Merik and Aedeun (who also have POV chapters)... and Kullen and Evrane and Ryber... SO. MANY. GREAT. CHARACTERS. What's impressive is how deftly drawn and layered and imperfect each character is, each with his or her own clear motivation. THIS TAKES SKILLS, PEOPLE.
And because I'm a sucker for romance, I'm mentioning it gleefully -- specifically because OH MY SEXUAL TENSION and also that it DIDN'T overshadow the plot. (And hey, look at that, girls are just as hormonal as guys and zero shaming/guilt. High five, Susan Dennard.) But yes, the hint of romance has me jonesing for book two.
Other great things:
- Worldbuilding: Loved it! Really felt like I was THERE in multiple locations, from sights and smells to the motion of a ship.
- Pacing: 400 pages, diving in right from the get-go. Constant action, and it kept me entertained!
- Magic: I enjoyed the witchery, and though the concept of the different types of magic wasn't anything brand new, I liked the nuance that Dennard brought to it -- from the specialties that certain witches have (for example, Airwitches have more varied power than Windwitches) to the limitations of the use of power and the effects it has on the witches.
- Prophecy: It's touched on a bit here but will be explored more in later books. OH THE POTENTIAL!!!
The Caveat: There are a LOT of names and empires and types of witchery to keep track of here. I never found it to be confusing (it was actually astonishing how well I was able to follow along, which shows how distinct the characters are), but it might be intimidating for someone who doesn't often read high fantasy. Hang in there!
You should read this because: Badass female friendships, magic, and the start of a series with SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Just get on the bandwagon now -- this book is worth it!
Recommendation by: Donna