By Susan Dennard 3/5 stars 2/5stars
***Mild Spoilers Ahead….you have been warned***
Lets start with an overview of Truthwitch the first of the Witchlands series. The plot moved along at a fast pace that drew me through the story quickly and kept me interested. The rapid changes in conflict and plot were so frequent and out of nowhere it gave you whiplash but it was at least intriguing. I find this is very common for debut authors as if they throw all the ideas they have into their first book just incase. As a result none of the conflicts are thought out or explained, we just move onto the next problem. We tried to rob a caravan, now we are fugitives and the whole city is looking for and will recognize us, now all of a sudden there is a betrothal to a king, being hunted by an uber assassin, returning to a home I was exiled from…wait kicked out of..rescued from??? evil cult leader, mob, evil super villain killing people from afar…ummm we are just 100 pages in. This left the world building and development of the magic system lacking and plot holes…so many plot holes. But wait! Perhaps this will be worked out in the second book…
Windwitch……sigh…..this book was so close to being DNF’ed. I had to put it down for a couple days because it made me so mad. The magic system continues to be underdeveloped and inconsistent, it moves around to accommodate the plot. The politics are a huge miss. They do not feel well thought out and the dots don’t connect. The author has added so many players to the game that it doesn’t make any sense, and there are large gaping holes. It kept feeling like we added more players to solve conflict or create new ones, this just felt like lazy plotting to me. Instead of using the characters and nations you already have and thinking about how they would fit into the story, more are just added with the characteristics or motivation that is needed. Some of the story lines felt like they had a clear defined purpose and direction and served to move the story forward (Iseult and Aeduan….literally the only reason I finished the book). Others (I’m looking at you Safi and Merik) felt rather pointless and we ended up quite literally in almost the same position as when we left Truthwitch…just with a whole lot of angst and drama in the middle and basically one revelation at the end to add some insight. We also had the addition of some other POVs that just served to muddle the story even more.
Okay, lets talk about it. Friendships, everyone praises this book because it focuses on the strength of friendships instead of romance which is so unique and refreshing for a YA book. Lies!!! Romance is certainly front and centre and is the driving force of many of the character decisions. One of the characters is referred to as the Chiseled Cheater……I feel like I don’t even need to bash that one…it does it all on its own. There are strong friendships and I do appreciate that, I did not appreciate how quickly they were minimized for romantic interests. To the extreme that one character wishes they had abandoned their childhood friend int their death to chase after the romantic interest they had known for a week. This story lost all credibility to me when a character who had been taken prisoner by a group that they had been hiding from their whole life and which means certain death, and are treated very poorly. I mean drug through a sweltering jungle tied up injured without food and water. Then they are left alone and the captor starts inexplicably stripping in front of them….and they think…hey he’s cute. NO!!!!!!! JUST NO!!!!!! So unnecessary, so out of character, so icky, harmful….all the things….NO!
I feel so frustrated by this series because there are elements that I really like and the magic could be really cool. Its just missing the mark and falling into all the typical YA stereotypes. The plot is just a big sprawling mess with relevant points that float to the surface every once in a while. Iseult and Aeduan were the only saving grace of this story. Their interactions together are believable and honest, and I appreciate the respect they have for each other. Their storyline actually makes sense..mostly, and their magic is the most developed and its the most consistent. I am unsure if I will continue on if it was for the rest of the story I would give up now…but the next one is called Bloodwitch so…….