A couple weeks ago I finished reading the much-hyped Truthwitch.
Let’s dive in!
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
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.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. 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.
The biggest thing this novel has going for it is originality. So often these days, YA fantasy novels are running through the same tropes again and again. However, despite the presence of elemental magic, which is used in practically every YA fantasy series to date, Dennard also throws in new and exciting abilities to shake things up: truthwitchery, blood magic, and threadwitchery. The power to tell truth from lie, the power to literally stop a person in their tracks when you control the blood rushing through their muscles, and the power to see the threads of emotion and the bondage ties of kinship or hatred gave Truthwitch the legs to stand on to rise above the crowd.
Not to mention that there was an old mythology that surrounded the story that will be able to be built upon in future installments to come since we clearly have not learned it all in Truthwitch alone. Which I should point out is a personal preference of mine in a fantasy novel when you don’t have all the answers to start out with. However, if you like to have a clear understanding of the history in a fantasy novel then Truthwitch might not be for you.
The pacing of this novel was quick. Stakes were being raised higher and higher with every turn of the page. I found myself holding my breath several times while reading through this, which made everything so much more exciting. I practically flew through the pages due to my desperate need to know what will happen to Safi and Iseult next!
The strong female friendship was an immense highlight to this novel and a real joy to read. Safi and Iseult were stronger together – the perfect crime fighting duo. However, when they were apart both of their narratives expressed a lack of confidence without the other around. Alone, Safi would long for Iseult’s rational thinking and Iseult would realize her inability to make quick decisions without Safi there to help. Not to mention that these girls are not damsels in distress, but are unabashed to fight and argue with anyone who tries to come between them.
Truthwitch is told through different point-of-view characters, which can either make or break a book depending upon the execution. The motivations for each character were explained in clear terms and let me connect deeply with each player. I loved that were was obvious tension between countries as the Twenty Year Truce comes to a close and each leader has a reason to attempt to gain the upper hand before the inevitable war begins. This is the reason why Safi, our Truthwitch, is so sought after and why she’s on the run so as not to become a slave for any kingdom. I also enjoyed the cultural differences that were displayed when a stranger encountered Iseult, a Nomatsi, a despised race of people (I’m assuming this is something like a gypsy in today’s world?). Everyone’s narrative included reasons for why they thought or reacted in any given way, which allowed me to connect with the characters and care about what happened to them.
The only thing that I could complain about is the romance between Merik and Safi. I just couldn’t get past the over the top dance sequence in the beginning of the novel and why Merik was attracted to Safi in the first place as he was constantly enraged by her decisions. Wouldn’t Iseult be more of a fit in the romance department with their levelheadedness? Merik and Safi’s connection just fell flat and not entirely believable.
Altogether, Truthwitch was a great read. Fast paced, new abilities, and an intriguing lore to back it all up, had me itching to pick up the next book, Windwitch, which I am currently reading as we speak. I definitely recommend this novel to any YA fantasy lover.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?