Series: The Witchlands #3
Published: February 12, 2019
Fans of Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.
High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.
The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.
I enjoyed Truthwitch when it was released by Tor Teen in 2015 and called it “one of the best YA fantasies I’ve read in awhile,” but after looking back through the blog archives, I realized that I never reviewed the second book in the series, Windwitch. Now that I’ve read Bloodwitch, I remember why. I simply…don’t have much to say about this series, even as new books are released.
I did mention in my Truthwitch review that I didn’t fully connect with the characters; I could see that Dennard, for instance, was trying to build a really strong female friendship between Safi and Iseult, but I just didn’t feel it. That has remained true for me as I continued reading the series. I find the characters interesting enough that I keep reading, but I’m not fully invested in them. I don’t feel the chemistry in their relationships. Perhaps this has only gotten worse as Dennard increases the cast of characters in each novel. Even as I start thinking I care a bit more for the older characters, newer ones pop in to get their own POV, and I barely care about them.
I’ve also just been consistently confused by this series. Part of this is likely my fault. It’s been four years since the release of book 1 and two years since the release of book 2. This is a fairly complicated fantasy with, as I said, an enormous case of characters, as well as various plot threads. My difficulty remembering what happened in books 1 and 2 does not help. However, reading Bloodwitch, I realized the books are also confusing because Dennard is withholding information. A lot of it. There are so many different people with so many goals, and most of them are never stated. Character A will be screaming, “Where’s my X and Y?!” and the reader (and other characters) have no idea what Character A is talking about or why retrieving these objects is important to him. Or Characters B, C, and D will all say they “need” capture Characters P and Q for their master plans…but it is never actually stated what any of these three characters plan to do with Characters P and Q if they get their hands on them. I know a lot of people are fighting in the series, but I have so little sense of what they want or the means they plan to use to get it.
Yet I keep reading the series. In spite of these two flaws, which seem fairly large, I’m engaged in the story and want to know what happens next. I have only a small sense of what’s happening, but I guess I feel as if I keep reading I’ll find out; Dennard has to explain things eventually. It all seems very dramatic and complex, and I want to see it all come together. I want to find out what Dennard is keeping from me.
I also do think I can recommend this series to people who like complex fantasy, but perhaps with the caveat it will probably be easier to read once all the books are finished and you can read them right in a row. If I have to wait two more years for book 4, there’s no telling how much more lost I’ll be.