Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 12th January 2017
Source: ebook (Netgalley)


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.
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* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Iseault and Safiya are two young witches and threadsisters who really like to get in trouble. Iseault is a threadwitch and a Nomatsi, she sticks out in a crowd and suffers from the overall xenophobia reserved to her people. Safi, is a truthwitch and a Domna of Cantorra, although she comes from a prominent family, she very much prefers her life in the city with Iseault and the rest of their threadfamily.

One day their trouble takes a step too far and they find themselves hunted by a dangerous bloodwitch, which can track beings with a scary degree of efficiency and velocity. They never thought that they would get into so much trouble with the Guildmaster who commands him, but now they must save themselves. When Safi meets Prince Merik of Nubrevna by chance - on one of the most confusing days of her life - little does she know how entertained their lives will be from then on.
Merik ends up being the best way to escape the bloodwitch. War is brewing, the old treaties are expiring, it is every kingdom for itself! All this happens as they depart on their attempt to save their lives, a kingdom and an identity.

One of the things that I like the most about this story was its focus. The main theme of the book is friendship. There is romance, adventure and fight scenes but it always comes back to friendship and about the family that you choose. Safi and Iseault complement each other: Iseault is the calm and wise ocean to Safi's thunderstorm. They are bound by much more than fate or circumstance, they are each other's family. The story also talks about acceptance and the importance of not judging and excluding others because of their outer appearances. Due to the rarity of her magic, Safi tries to hide her true powers from almost everyone: this way people can't use her as leverage. Only Iseault knows her truth. The girls both want to break free, one from the obligations at court and the other from the prejudice that constantly surrounds her just because she looks different. When they are forced to flee with Prince Merik aboard the Jana, they cannot predict the turn that their lives will take. Prince Merik has his own set of complicated issues: a poor country, a power-hungry family that only cares about profit and prestige, a sad and hungry people which he desperately wants to help.

One of the strongest assets of this book is its amazing set of characters. While they are a rather large group, each of them is beautifully complex and well developed (and also a somewhat relatable). Dennard shows how a person can have good and bad actions, show regret, change and evolve with their experiences in life. The author uses the characters' faults as opportunities for reflection and  It is also very hard not appreciate fierce female warriors that strike fear those who watch them fight, they impose respect through their actions. The story is told in four different points of view (POV): Safi's, Iseault's, Merik's and Aeduan's (the bloodwitch). This only made the characters feel more real since you could see what the characters were thinking, what were their motivations, perceptions and reactions to their surrounding environment. I love this especially because you know someone's true motivations but you can see how they sometimes need to hide them and the others do not realise the truth: this made me root so much more for certain characters!

There is no raging cliffhanger by the end but a lot of questions are let loose to hang in the air and I will admit that I cannot stop wondering what will happen next. It was a little hard to get into the story, since the very beginning is full of information about the world, the magic, the people, the geography, amongst others. However, I was eventually able to immerse myself in the story and fully appreciate it in all its beauty.

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