Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Genre: Fantasy
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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.

Sometimes you come across a book that sounds like everything you ever wanted. A book that sounds so perfect for you that you'd swear the author had you in mind when they wrote it. And the book is perfect and wonderful and exactly everything that makes you love a story.

And then there's books like this one.

Truthwitch sounded great. A fantasy story about two girls that are best friends. A unique sounding magic system. And, okay, those were the big things. But it didn't take me long to realize this wasn't the book for me. At all.

The two girls, Safi and Isult, I really didn't like. Safi is the hotheaded one, the sort of girl that never works for me. She never thinks about anything before reacting and she has an unbelievably short temper, with none of the usual qualities that might make me forgive it. And Isult is the sort that always has a tight reign on her emotions - and is in fact, the exact opposite of Safi. I barely tolerated her.

The friendship was a nice idea - especially considering they are so different - but I don't really see that it's the focus of the book. Not like I kept hearing that it was. (No. That was the romance. The totally unpleasant, personally hated, romance. Enjoy.) But, really, I didn't feel that the girls were friends willing to die for the other. Maybe because that's what I was constantly told and the more the creator has to reaffirm a relationship, the less I buy into it. (This book isn't the first to do this to me. I've come across some stories, well loved for the friendship that I could barely see the friendship from.)

And then we have Merik. The male version of Safi. The young man that, as soon as he and Safi met, I knew what the romance - that I was assured was only minor - would be coming from. And, honestly, if this was a minor romance I'd love to know what is a major romance. (Actually, no, I wouldn't.) These are the type of romances I hate: constant bickering and fighting and oh, yeah, btw, they are totally digging each other. (Right from the very start because their 'romance' hardly changes from the moment they first meet each other to the very end of the book.)

As long as he stayed angry, he wouldn't have to think about the shape of her mouth. The weight of her hips pressing into his.


Seriously, I keep hearing people say that the romance isn't the focus of this book and all I have to say is that I'd hate to read a book where they consider romance the focus. (Because I kept feeling like I was being bashed over the head with the romance. I'd read four pages and have to stop because the romance was everywhere and it was angering me. Greatly.)

So, beyond the romance thinly veiled behind a friendship, the plot is barebones and the world building…actually, the world building reminds me very, very strongly of another book that I've been unable to place. Nothing new or original here, which I could have forgiven had I liked the characters. I didn't. (No, that's a lie. I liked Aeduan. He was fun.)

The book starts off well enough, or maybe I was just holding out hope, but by the halfway point I should have just stopped. Because it just gets worse and worse.