First Impressions of Truthwitch
My first impression was that this YA adult fantasy resembles many other fantasy pieces in the best possible way. It reads like a mix of Avatar: The Last Airbender, A Darker Shade of Magic, and Throne of Glass. However, this novel features an intriguing and unique world with so much promised ahead in the sequels. In short, it is no mere clone of similar works of fiction.
Similarities to Other Narratives
I very much enjoyed the lighter nature of this novel compared to some of the ‘heavier’ material I have been reading. I think it is a mistake to equate ‘lighter’ with deeper or more sophisticated as Truthwitch contains its own level of unique sophistication for its targeted audience. In this narrative Susan Dennard has created a mixture of interesting characters – each with special abilities and powers – that connect together in unique ways. For this reason, The Last Airbender comparison came to mind as I thoroughly appreciated that show for its ability to blend together its different character ‘roster.’
It was curious that I equated this series to Throne of Glass. For further research indicated that Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard are close friends who have read each other’s work. Sarah J. Maas’ review of this novel highlighted that this novel reminded her of why she reads fantasy and I can certainly agree. It has a serious sense of action and adventure, a mysterious and mystical world, and a budding romance which is tactfully developed.
Written With A Strong Voice
Some might find the prose becomes ‘too purple’ at times for them. However, I personally enjoyed the voice with which Susan Dennard wrote this novel. It is a clear voice, with a defined purpose behind each and every word or sentence. A voice which informs the reader that the author is a clear storyteller, no matter any disagreement with the delivery methods used. In short, the novel is well written not because the writing is more eloquent than any other novel, but because the story is clearly defined by the author’s intentions.
The novel itself follows two girls with powerful witcheries: Safiya and Iseult. Safiya is a rare ‘Truthwitch’ with the ability to tell falsehood from truth. Iseult is a ‘Threadwitch’ with the ability to see the threads that link the world together. The novel continues to explain the nature of these witchery abilities, that the Witchlands comprise of Three Empires who are holding an uneasy truce. Within these Empires exist various individuals with special Witcheries to speak to others across long distances, or control the elements, or use multiple languages. In the midst of this fraying Truce, there are politics which threaten to control Safiya’s Truthwitch nature for their own agenda, alongside the existence of sinister Void Witches like the Bloodwitch hunting the two girls. Although I must add that Aeduan was one of my favourite characters in this novel.
A Well Balanced Fantasy World
For some authors Truthwitch could almost feature too many ideas. However, Susan Dennard delivers these multiple elements well. All despite occasionally allowing some details to remain vague and undefined for the purposes of future explanation. I believe this may be due to a desire to avoid merely infodumping on the reader, something Dennard cleverly avoids. Yet for some readers there may be a lack of clarity in some aspects of the plot. And similarly elements of the world. While certain sections of the plot might be slightly rushed.
On the whole, Truthwitch hints at many other works of fantasy aimed at teenage audiences. Yet in its worldbuilding and character interactions it delivers something fresh, with a strong authorial voice. I for one am very keen for the future of this series. I particularly am eager to see a stronger, more defined vision of this world in the sequel: Windwitch. All in all I would summarise this as a highly recommended fantasy novel to read.
Themes and Ideas8.0/10
Unique Plot, Characters or Worlds9.5/10
- Beautifully developed fantasy world
- Clear authorial voice and plot outline
- Clever character designs, avoiding the simple and obvious cliches and plot directions
- Some neat plot twists (somewhat predictable but also well delivered)
- Some plot element could feel rushed
- Some magical elements might feel too vague to certain readers
- If you don't enjoy the characters from the outset the novel is unlikely to appeal to you
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