Truthwitch by Susan Dennard


Goodreads: Truthwitch
Series: Witchlands #1
Source: Purchased
Published: January 4, 2015

Official Summary

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


Truthwitch is one of those books everyone seems to have already read and everyone else has reviewed. So while I initially questioned whether to write a review at all (Who’s left to read it?), I decided to go for it based on the fact that although I enjoyed Truthwitch a lot, I didn’t think it was the greatest thing to happen to fantasy. And I’m definitely in the minority for that opinion.

I actually did not read any reviews for Truthwitch at all before picking up the book, but that did not allow me to escape from the hype. Promotions and pure, unadulterated love for this book were everywhere in the weeks leading up to its release. I couldn’t go on Twitter without getting the impression that Truthwitch would be my new favorite book, a book that would change my life, a book that would be everything. So, sure, part of my critical attitude may be just an adverse reaction to major hype. People set some incredibly high expectations for this book, and I’m not sure anything could have lived up to it. Mostly my issue is that, although technically brilliant, the book never really grabbed my emotions.

Truthwitch is undoubtedly great fantasy. Susan Dennard has put an amazing amount of care into the world-building (almost too much, actually; I thought the details were overwhelming and irrelevant at times) and into the characterizations. Though I didn’t end up loving all the characters the way many other readers do, I certainly appreciate them and their complexity. My prime example is love interest Prince Merik. I’m simply not swooning over him, despite his very admirable love for his country and desire to help his people without turning to unethical means. And I’m not swooning in part because he’s flawed. He’s selfish and self-righteous. He says he’s going to do one thing while secretly planning to do another, then gets angry when people act based on what he told them and not on what he intended, as if they’re supposed to read his mind. An annoying this itself is, it’s even more annoying when the other characters agree with him that they were in the wrong. They weren’t. I don’t understand some of these characters at all.

And that perhaps is the main problem. I was interested in the characters, as I would be interested in observing people walking on the street. I didn’t fall in love with any of them. I could see the relationships Dennard was trying to build, the way she wanted to build a strong female friendship between Iseult and Safiya and the way she wanted to craft a heart-tugging one between Iseult and the mother she could never quite tell loved her. But I wasn’t really invested in any of it.

This is consistently the hardest thing for me to explain: why a book doesn’t emotionally move me despite apparently having all the correct ingredients. I recommend this book. I think it’s really good and, in fact, some of the best YA fantasy I have read in a long time. I just wish I cared a little more and that could pinpoint and articulate the reason I didn’t.

4 starsBriana

12 thoughts on “Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

  1. Geraldine @ Corralling Books says:

    It was impossible to get away from the hype of this book – even if you tried to avoid reading reviews, you definitely cannot stop seeing it around and anticipate it of sorts!
    I felt the same about the world-building – it was quite overwhelming for me at first!
    And the characters, whilst I liked most of them, I didn’t necessarily love them – only Aeduan and Iseult were close to being the ones that I loved.
    Great review Briana – I actually think you were right on the ball about the rating, even though you can’t explain it! I still get it though – I think it’s something that only people who’ve read Truthwitch might understand?


    • Briana says:

      The funny thing is I partially didn’t read reviews based on how much hype there was already. I just didn’t want to keep hearing about this book!!! Also, it was so obvious everyone just loved it so much, there didn’t seem a point to reading reviews. I felt I could predict what they were going to say. :p

      I liked Aeduan, too, which is funny because he definitely has more issues than Merik. Maybe that makes him interesting, though. Also, other characters are willing to tell him when he’s wrong, which is good for him. Not so much with Merik.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate @ Midnight Book Girl says:

    I got Truthwitch through one of my book box subscriptions… but of course haven’t read it yet. I read the first of Dennard’s previous series, and I liked it but didn’t really feel compelled to keep reading the series. I think this one might be a better fit for my tastes, but we shall see. Sometimes book hype means something, and sometimes it’s just because an author is well liked (and Dennard is bffs in real life with Sarah J. Maas).


    • Briana says:

      I haven’t read Dennard’s other series but have gotten the general vibe it’s something people like but not love. I was actually surprised to see how massively people were excited about Truthwitch, then, since that wasn’t the reaction to her previous books. I guess there really is something different here?


  3. klyse3 says:

    Ugh…..the hype. You are so right. It was impossible to avoid.

    And your review is spot-on. I’m really hoping she dives into some of the more interesting elements of the magic–like when someone honestly believes what they tell Safiya, even if it isn’t true.

    But she was rushing through too much world-building and action to write deep characters. Perhaps it will get better later in the series?


    • Briana says:

      This definitely has to be one of the most-hyped books I’ve seen since I started blogging. It almost turned me off it, initially.

      Yes, I’m hoping now that she has most of the world established the books will get even better!


  4. Anissa @ She Reads Too Much says:

    The hype is insane! It wasn’t a full 5 star book for me either, but I really enjoyed it still. I did feel like there was a little something missing, I’m not entirely sure what though. I’m really curious to see how things will go in the next book. Great review!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana says:

      Thanks! I’m always wary of hype because often my reaction to the book is, “Well, it isn’t THAT good,” which seems unfair. But I think I would have felt the same about this one regardless. I just didn’t connect with the characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ana says:

    I’ve heard SO MANY things about this book, and I have yet to actually read it. So I’m one of those people left to read it, haha!😛 I think I have to try and get myself off the hype and all the glowing reviews because I usually end up being disappointed because I just didn’t fall in love with hyped books the way everyone seems to.

    I really liked your review because I do love hearing something other than “OMG SO GREAT READ IT IMMEDIATELY.”😀


    • Briana says:

      Yes! I actually didn’t read any reviews because I thought they would all be super-gushy based on what people said on Twitter. And since I already knew everyone loved it…I guess I didn’t know if there was much to read. :p


  6. DoingDewey says:

    I’ve had books like this too, where I’m just not drawn in and can’t pin down the reason. I’ve also heard great things about this one, but I haven’t picked it up yet, so I enjoyed your review🙂


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