Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Truthwitch was extremely hyped by the end of last year; in fact, it was hyped so much that I, unfortunately enough, unconsciously began believing that there was no way the book would live up to its hype. There were promises of immersive world-building, shippy ships, and exquisite relationships (platonic, thank you very much), and much to my surprise, this book delivered. Mostly. It definitely took a while to get into, but it was pretty satisfying when everything was said and done. Of course, I had to stew in the world for a couple of weeks, and it took me more than half of the book to become legitimately invested in the characters and interested in their outcomes, but in the end, I'm glad I stuck with this one despite the struggles I faced with it.
Readers are immediately thrown into the world of the Witchlands, with not even a crash course, historical recap, or character introduction to settle readers into the plot. Instead, we meet Safiya and Iseult right in the thick of things as they are attempting to get revenge on a man that wronged Safi - Safi's brilliant idea, of course. Needless to say, things go on from there, and this book doesn't slow its pace there. This abrupt landing into the novel made it a bit difficult for me to find my balance with this book and understand who and what went where in the world, and because this isn't the smooth ride most books present, it seems to weed out readers, in a way - only people genuinely interested in what the story has to offer will continue with it. Or, let's be honest, a person who has nothing better to do.
I found it extremely difficult to connect with any part of this story for a very long time, and was not at all even vaguely interested until I was nearing the end of the novel. However, once near the end, everything that happened from the beginning began to fix together and form a marvelous mosaic of intrigue, betrayal, friendship, and doubt that I was finally able to begin to appreciate. After all this time spent watching the characters from a rather distant perspective and experiencing some rather intense scenes between characters that I may not have fully admired, after all the unique bleh expressions I used to describe this book whenever someone asked me how I was liking this one so far, the story finally made me feel something. More specifically, some of the things in the novel that made me feel other, wonderful things were:
- Iseult and the Bloodwitch: Though I was pretty sure that shipping Merik and Safi were supposed to be my priority, the crazy thick tension/incomprehensible relationship/connection between Iseult and the Bloodwitch was what kept my attention. And did I mention he's a very scary man who is intent on ruthlessly killing Safi (and Iseult as well, just 'cause)?
- Merik and Safi: Okay, despite the predictability of the relationship, Merik and Safi being idiots around each other was pretty fun to watch too.
- ISEULT AND SAFI'S FRIENDSHIP AND BOND. THEY ARE GOALS.
- The fictional world: When looking back, the book is reminiscent of ADSOM in terms of the style of the world, as well as the genre and feel/tone of the book in general.
In all honestly, I feel like this book would have been perfection if only I had gone into it with the right mindset. I expected this to disappoint me, and so for most of the book I was convinced that it did. If I had gone into the novel a bit more believing of the hype - darn my bitter, suspicious consciousness - I probably would have been sucked in right from the very first page. Even so, despite the fact that I didn't start out loving this, Truthwitch managed to convince me of its greatness within the latter half of the book through characters that grow on you like moss and a uniquely written plot. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Fantasy, and/or authors like V.E. Schwab and Sarah J. Maas.