Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 416 pages
Source: Library Book
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.
Characters: In the Witchlands there are some people born with a special talent called a witchery. Safiya though holds an extremely rare power, she's a Truthwitch and rulers would kill to have a Truthwitch on their side, or kill so their opponent won't have one. Then there's Iseult, a Threadwitch who left her tribe because she was unable to follow in her mother's footsteps. Finally there's Marik, a Windwitch and prince who commands a ship and is looking for a way for his people to survive in a world on the brink of war. All the characters and points of view we get to see in this book were amazing. Every character is so complex and multi-layered. What was truly amazing though was the interpersonal relationships between the characters The friendship between Safi and Iz, the romances, the combative relationships, everything is so well though out and developed, plus the individual growth of these characters is outstanding.
Romance: Before going into this book I saw a review that said that the romance in this book is merely a hint of a romance to come and that there really isn't a romance in this book, and to that I'd say I don't know what book they read because there is totally a romance in this book. Now, the romance isn't very expansive and it definitely isn't a main focus of this book but it's there, steadily growing over the course of this book. Things begin to heat up as the book continues, plus there are hints at possible romance to come in future installments. Overall I really enjoyed the romance in this book, it may not be a priority, but it sure was a highly shippable romance.
World-Building: There is actually a lot of world-building in this book, though it's not as direct as I would have liked it in some parts. On the whole the world-building is done really well, not taking time every page to info dump and instead just sort of weaving the information nearly seamlessly into the story, though there were a few times that a little bit of an info dump might have been appreciated. Sometimes things were confusing and it would take quite a few chapters to get the info I needed. I really enjoyed this world though, the political intrigue is insane, in a good way, the magic system is really interesting, and the author does a great job of weaving these characters and this story together in such a compelling way, I could barely put it down. There's a lot still left to be explored in this world, a lot that we learn about late in the story that needs more explanation, and I can't wait to see how this world will evolve and change in the coming installments.
Predictability: Looking over the story as a whole, there wasn't all that much that I couldn't guess at when there was at least a little bit of foreshadowing, however nothing ever felt like it was pounded over my head. Nothing ever felt like there was too much foreshadowing or that the author got her point across too soon. There were of course a few things that I couldn't have called in my wildest dreams. Things that had no real foreshadowing and thus couldn't really be predicted. Overall I really loved the balance between the things that could be predicted and those that couldn't.
Ending: The ending was one of those things that going in, I didn't know what to expect. Since this is an ensemble novel, the ending is full of a lot of people doing a lot of things separately that all affect one another. As this story wraps up and enters the final climax, plans are made, things are decided, and everything leads into an epic confrontation that has game changing repercussions. The story of this book wraps up as it foreshadows what to expect in the next installment. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger necessarily, but it doesn't have that same plateaued feel where everything is in a semi good place so you won't pull your hair out waiting for the next installment.
Overall, this book is highly enjoyable. I really loved the characters, and the friendship between Safi and Iz is incredible, I thought people were exaggerating when they talked about it, but it is truly incredible. However, there were aspect of the world-building, and some slow moments that dragged this book down for me a tad, however I can't wait for the next installment!