Series: The Witchlands #1
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Tor Teen (1.5.2016)
ARC, 416 pages
Source: ARC tour
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
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.
I was really looking forward to this book because umm, that cover?! Gorgeeeoouuus. Sadly I was tricked by a pretty cover again. Maybe the hype killed it a little for me too, or maybe Susan Dennard books just aren’t my cup of tea (I didn’t like Something Strange and Deadly much either, but thought that was just because it was Historical). Sigh.
My main issue with this book is that I was horribly bored for the majority of it. I didn’t feel as if there was much happening, and the pacing seemed to drag on and on. To be honest, I even thought about DNFing in the beginning. It did pick up around 70 pages or so with a nice little action scene. Actually, if the whole book had been more like the scenes with the Bloodwitch, I probably would have really enjoyed it. I loved those parts! But sadly they were few and far between. Honestly, there were times when I started skimming because I was zoning out on the book. I couldn’t focus because I was SO. FREAKING. BORED.
Another issue I had was with the world-building. I was extremely confused in the beginning! I struggled to grasp the world because things weren’t explained all that well. (Unless I was just zoning out so much I missed it, which I doubt.) There were a lot of terms just thrown at you and you were expected to understand what they meant. Cahr Awen, Origin Wells, Twelve Paladins Hell-bard, Hell-gates, Heart-thread, Threadsister, Threadstones…it was very overwhelming. Thank goodness there was a map, but even still I felt overwhelmed with the sheer amount of fantasy words used. It was hard to keep up with. I still never did figure out exactly what the Threadstones were. There was mention of the stones in passing, and the girls actually used one or two (can’t even remember what they were called now), but I have NO idea how they work or what they even do. Not explained. It took me a long time to figure out that Origin Wells was referring to some sort of sacred group of five (I think?) actual wells, and I still have no freaking clue what the meaning of the Cahr Awen is. Some sort of holy or revered person? Maybe? View Spoiler »And apparently the Cahr Awen are Iseult and Safi? SO WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY?! « Hide Spoiler
I think the book had a fabulous premise, but the delivery was seriously lacking. I would have like to see WAY more of the Witchery. More explanation of the different types, where they get their power from, how it’s used, etc. More background on the Origin Wells and a better explanation of Cahr Awen. What the heck is the Puppeteer? I feel like this person was randomly inserted at the very end, barely had a part, and I couldn’t even tell you who they are and what they do. I don’t even know if the Puppeteer is bad or good. How does one acquire a Thread-sibling? By saving their life?? And don’t even ask me what the Twelve Paladins are. I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
I didn’t care about any of the characters. Frankly, I had a hard time telling Iseult and Safi apart for 75% of the book. They had the SAME personality. The only difference was between their Witchery. I often got lost between the switching POVs because I could barely tell the girls apart. I know that one has lighter hair and pale skin, and one is darker haired and darker skinned, but I still couldn’t tell you which was which. Pretty bad, I know.
To be honest, the only things I really liked about this book were:
- The cover,
- The idea of Witchery and Threads,
- Cleaving (totally awesome),
- The term “mhe verujta” (“trust me as if my soul were yours”), and
- The fact that the romance between Merik and Safi developed really slow and started off as dislike.
I’m sad to say that this book was just not for me. But don’t get discouraged, because I think most people will probably love this book. Most people have loved this book. Black sheep again, I suppose…
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 2/5