Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: January 5, 2016
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Quick Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)
My Review: I really hate to do this (no I don’t), but I’m about to write the most negative non-spoiler review I’ve ever done on this blog. I’ll just warn you now: if this is one of your favorite books and it will kill you to read about it being ripped to shreds, I’d just back away slowly while you still can, because I really don’t have a single positive thing to say about Truthwitch. Warning out of the way, let’s just get into the fun stuff. I mean, it’s not fun to rip on a book that everyone else seems to love, but it’s fun to write negative reviews in general, right?
Truthwitch is one of those books that are impossible to avoid. It was literally everywhere leading up to its release and after. “Truthwitch, Truthwitch, Truthwitch. Everyone go read Truthwitch.” That’s basically all I ever heard for awhile. This was probably one of the most hyped books of the entire year. So when I recently got an opportunity to trade one of my books for a copy of this with someone on Twitter, I was a mixture of excited and apprehensive. The hype had died down, but I was still scared that I might have too high of expectations.
Well, let me tell you. I almost abandoned this book at least ten times before even reaching the halfway point.
I do not DNF books easily. I can count on one or maybe two hands how many books I’ve DNF. And the only reason I didn’t DNF this book is because I was reading it for the #ReadThemAllThon, and I needed to earn a badge/challenge. I didn’t want to find a new book to fulfill the requirement, and I didn’t want to lose out on the points I’d earn for finishing, so I stuck it out. But it was torturous. I made a bullet list of things that annoyed me about this book as I read, so let’s just go through them, shall we?
- This book is confusing as all hell.
World-building? What world-building? Truthwitch had none. Zip. Nada. This felt more like a sequel than a first of a series. There are about a million terms, names, types of magic, places, etc that are just not explained at all. We as the reader are just expected to learn things along the way. Like, hahaha good luck!!! And this would be fine if it were all explained later or was the only problem I had, but it didn’t and it wasn’t. I was so confused for the first half of the book, and that’s the main reason I almost DNF it. I became extremely frustrated, and I nobody wants to be frustrated while reading for this kind of reason, right?
I almost feel bad about including this bullet, but ehh…not that bad. There are weird names, and there are Truthwitch names. You know when you’re not sure how to pronounce a name or place so your eyes just kind of glance over it every time you see it on the page? That was me for 90% of the names/places in this book. For example, Aeduan? Aeduan? Can we stop this trend of creating names that are just a bunch of vowels thrown together? Okay, I’ll move on since there are more pressing things to talk about.
I understand that editing is hard, and sometimes books have a typo or two, but Truthwitch was loaded with typos and just awkward phrasing. I didn’t mark any of them because I was too distracted by how I wanted to be reading anything else, but just take my word on this one.
- Safi and Iseult differentiation
Maybe this was because I felt no connection to any of the characters, but I found the two female protagonists impossible to tell apart when they were in the same scenes. Only when they were apart could I tell who was who because they were involved in different antics. They were both equally boring and lacking any uniqueness from other YA heroines. Their relationship didn’t touch me as it has so many others. I felt nothing toward them.
Safi and her love interest (I won’t say who because of spoilers) had the worst case of insta-love. The author tries to make you believe that they actually hate each other, but it’s clear from the very first scene they share together that they don’t hate each other at all. From that scene on, they’re both telling themselves that they shouldn’t feel anything for the other. *yawn* Speaking of romance, this pair also kept coincidentally falling on top of each other. Do it once? Fine. It’s not the best trope, but whatever. Multiple times, though? No thank you.
Ugh, this book was just so slow and boring. The entire plot was the main protagonists being chased and the Prince trying to get the trade he needed. That’s it. Oh, and there’s a war looming on the horizon because of a treaty that’s about to go inactive, but it didn’t seem like anyone actually wanted to fight? Who was going to start the war? I have no idea because it wasn’t anyone that we were introduced to. So everyone is preparing for a war that they can’t even know for sure is happening. Any why, why, why was everyone so interested in Safi, the Truthwitch? Being able to discern truth from lies is pretty cool, but so is pretty much every other type of magic in this book? Why was her magic supposedly so much more coveted than everyone else’s? This is definitely a character-driven novel, but since I didn’t have any feelings for any of the characters, I was relying a lot on the plot which didn’t deliver.
This is told in a third person POV, but it changes. A lot like The Raven Boys in that regard. However, I didn’t like the switching POVs in this book. I basically skimmed the entirety of Aeduan’s POV sections. Just as I was somewhat getting into one POV it would change into one I didn’t care about. But Aeduan’s were definitely the most boring, followed by Iseult.
- The writing
The writing isn’t absolutely horrible, but it’s not good, either. At least I didn’t think so. I can’t put my finger on what I didn’t like about it, but it was noticeable in a bad way. It didn’t flow, and I had to concentrate way harder than I should have had to. The writing was as bland as the plot, and I found myself skipping entire paragraphs. I’m not a big fan of action scenes in general, but these ones in particular were clunky and slow-moving. I just wasn’t a fan, but like I said, it’s hard to explain on this point what precisely I didn’t like. I think if I had to pin-point it, I’d blame the flow (or lack thereof).
Those are the main aspects of the book that frustrated me (basically everything, I know). I could probably go on about other things but I don’t want this review to seem over-the-top. I’m sorry to anyone who loves this book. I’m happy you liked it, but it just wasn’t for me at all. I feel like every moment I spent reading Truthwitch was time wasted. But I got points for the read-a-long I’m doing, so hey, oh well, I guess. Needless to say, I will not be reading any sequels.
And because I’m sure you’re wondering, yes this receives a single star from me. Yikes. I don’t remember the last time I gave a single star to a book.
My Rating: 1/5 stars
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Phew, we made it. Or, well, I hope you made it ha. Whether you agree with me or think I’m crazy for hating this book, let me know below! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time,