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Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan DennardTitle: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Barnes & Noble
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 15, 2016
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)

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.

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I wasn’t going to pick up TRUTHWITCH — at least not for a while — simply because of the incredible, months-long hype that surrounded it. To be frank, it really killed my interest for the book and having finished Susan Dennard’s previous series and ending up unimpressed, I wasn’t anxious to dive right into TRUTHWITCH. I was offered a review copy of the audiobook from the publisher and with so many friends who had already given it high praise, I figured it was as good of a time to start as any.

My whole experience with TRUTHWITCH was a rocky one. I started the audiobook and was really enjoying the story but the longer I listened, the more the narrator bothered me. I actually was perfectly fine with her narration of the story but the dialogue was a killer. I couldn’t stand the voices she used for the girls and Safi and Iseult ended up coming off as whiny, immature, and weak. Not wanting this to affect my whole experience, I ended up stopping the audiobook and I purchased a print copy instead.

Things were going okay until I realized I had hit a wall with just about everything. I couldn’t bring myself into this book and I was struggling to pick it back up. I had some serious trouble with the pacing most of all and couldn’t find a good balance between action, world-building, and character development. I ended up feeling like a whole lot was happening but it really wasn’t moving the plot forward at all. I felt no closer to development, a surprise, a turning point, or resolution and it started to get really hard for me to keep reading. Quite frankly, I was bored.

I also really struggled with the world-building. It’s one of my favorite parts of fantasy novels and I absolutely love learning about political and social structures, geography, lore, and history. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in the beginning to introduced something in passing that gets used later in the book (Sarah J. Maas is a PRO at this) so the reader already has knowledge of what it is and is excited about its involvement in a major plot point. There were so many things that happened towards the end that I didn’t realize were even important until the characters were discussing them. I also would have loved to learn more about each ability/power, why it was important, how it ranked in comparison to other powers, why Safi’s Truthwitchery was so incredibly important, why stasis was so important to Iseult and her powers, the limits to the powers, how people ended up having them, etc etc. Some of these things were touched upon but I just wanted so much more detail and backstory and history that I found it really lacking for my taste.

The characters also really didn’t grab me at all. You’d think two amazing friends and strong girls would immediately hook me but somehow they didn’t. Maybe it was the narration that soured me on this because try as I did, I never really got those voices out of my head and I never got over the fact that I didn’t feel much depth to them. I think I connected more to Iseult than Safi because I had kind of a hard time with Safi’s hard-headedness at times. Instead of strength in Safi, I saw immaturity and a lack of patience.

The romance didn’t really get me either. I really liked the introduction of Merik and the dance scene was GREAT but other than that, I didn’t feel the chemistry. The cute romantic things that came later were just too late and I was already stuggling with the book. The chemistry just didn’t feel natural for me. I had already lost interest in the book at that point and was pretty much racing to finish (I READ THIS FOR A MONTH) so nothing was really interesting me at that point in time and I really just wanted to finish.

I am super bummed that I just didn’t latch onto much of anything in this book. I just felt like the development wasn’t there (I guess for me — so many people loved it so maybe I’m just the black sheep here) and things were introduced with no history so I was struggling to realize what they were and why they were so important. TRUTHWITCH was just sadly not a hit for me. This may be my last Susan Dennard book because I really lost steam at the end of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy and this one didn’t end up changing my mind on what I was missing from Susan Dennard’s first series. I’m not sure hype or persuasion could get me to read another book since I seem to be the unpopular opinion on her books.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

truthwitch gr updates

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Safi // Character Obsessions: Friendship, duty, freedom, honesty. 
I just never quite got on board with Safi. She seemed a bit too hot-headed and/or immature, making decisions hastily. I feel like it’s one thing to get into trouble because it’s cute for the book or it’s that sort of character but it seemed like Safi got into trouble because she ended up putting herself there and it kind of bothered me.
Iseult // Character Obsessions: Friendship, threads, family, honor. 
I connected a bit more to Iseult than to Safi but I still didn’t connect much. I felt like even though we do get some of her history and her past, it was only just a tiny bit and I wanted to spend so much more time getting to know her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books with hype. I gave into the hype and ended up reading this one. I think it was a bit too hyped up and that didn’t help but I also don’t think I would have felt differently even if it hadn’t been.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. I LOVE learning about a fantasy world. I just wanted so much more of this in TRUTHWITCH.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I seem to be the black sheep. There have been a few others who seem to share similar opinions but the vast majority of my friends LOVED this. I’d say check out a few more reviews before you take my word for it.

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BOOKS LIKE TRUTHWITCH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SHADOW AND BONE    RED QUEEN

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) – Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: August 7, 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Barnes & Noble
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 20, 2014
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

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I first tried to read THRONE OF GLASS almost two years ago when it first came out and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into it. I wasn’t a big fantasy reader back then so maybe it was just the wrong time for me, but I eventually let it go back to the library unfinished, knowing I wanted to give it another shot someday. When Bloomsbury introduced their Throne of Glass series read along, I knew that was the perfect time to dive back in and hope I would enjoy it this time around!

As I said in my review for the novellas, I owe Nikki from There Were Books Involved a huge thanks for encouraging me to read the novellas first. Since I was hesitant to get back to THRONE OF GLASS due to my less than exciting first attempt, I really wanted to get to know the world and characters better and I felt like I had a good grip on what this world was really all about when I started THRONE OF GLASS. The only downside to reading the novellas first, I think, was that… well, I actually enjoyed the atmosphere of them a bit more. Well, don’t get me wrong — I really did enjoy ToG too, but there was definitely a different feel, and rightly so. Celaena went through hell and back before ToG even started so when we first see her in the beginning of the novel, she’s already quite a different person in some ways than she was before.

I couldn’t help but make comparisons to THE HUNGER GAMES for some reason. In the novel, Celaena is entered into the competition to become the king’s champion and for whatever reason, I got a real Katniss vibe from her, though I think this easily happens with several strong female characters in similar situations. But this wasn’t a bad thing! I really admired Celaena’s dedication to her friends, her determination to win the competition to better her life, and her flat out talent. The aspect of the whole competition thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was that it seemed fairly predictable. I guess it can’t really end any other way, but I was hoping for a bigger twist or two, I think.

I think what I enjoyed most is that while this was an enjoyable first book and I felt like it could have used a little more “oomph” here and there, Sarah J. Maas doesn’t rush into cramming all of the twists and surprises and plot elements all at once. It’s a longer series (six books instead of the common trilogy nowadays) so there’s plenty of time to allow plot to develop and for characters to grow. It had a very specific story line that wrapped up nicely for book one and at the same time led in perfectly to book two, and the best part about all of that is that it got me excited for the rest of the series.

THRONE OF GLASS was definitely an interesting read for me and thank goodness it held my attention this time! I think it was just right book but wrong time when I first attempted it and the novellas really did ground me in this world so I didn’t have to discover what it was all about all at once. The book didn’t totally knock me over but I really, really enjoyed it and I’m so excited to continue on with the series. I totally understand why so many people are in love with Sarah J. Maas’ books!

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I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

tog

I started this book almost two years ago and just wasn’t in the right place for it. So glad I came back and tried again!!

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Celaena Sardothien // Character Obsessions: Freedom, becoming the King’s champion, trust, friendship.
It’s interesting to see the change in Celaena from the novellas to THRONE OF GLASS. She’s definitely not the same person after everything that happened to her and everything she went through in the salt mines… I definitely appreciate reading the novellas first so I was able to see the person that she was before the most terrible things in her life had happened to her, and yet, you can still tell she’s very much the same person in many ways as well. I loved getting to know her better and now the reader gets more of a detailed plot line with more adventure whereas the novellas were more getting to know Celaena and her history.
Chaol Westfall // Character Obsessions: Duty, honor, pride.
Starting to understand the whole Chaol love obsession here! I really enjoyed his character in THRONE OF GLASS and I loved him as one of the main characters. He’s definitely in a precarious position for so many reasons and I loved watching how he handled each delicate situation. It was a bit maddening at times… but in a good way!
Dorian Havilliard // Character Obsessions: Family, friendship, standing up for what is right.
I kind of loved Dorian. He was such a personable character that even when he was painted in, shall we say, not the fondest light, I still loved him. He felt very human and I really connected with him probably even more than I did with Celaena and Chaol. He’s in a tough spot in his family and he wants to do what’s right but at the same time doesn’t always know what that means in his life. Definitely a gem and I love what Sarah J. Maas does with his character.

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Kept Me Hooked On: High fantasy. I think I’m pretty much solid on the fact that I really enjoy high fantasy now. I felt like it was important to note because when I first attempted the book, I really didn’t. I was just starting to dip into fantasy and for some reason this book wasn’t catching me… No issues with that now! It’s become one of my favorite things to read.
Left Me Wanting More: Adventure. There are six books in the series so yes, we’re slowing building up the adventure bit by bit. The training and competition scenes for the King’s Champion were… okay. I enjoyed them still but it felt a bit like The Hunger Games in a way. Not in a bad way, but I guess I just expect more glorious adventures in high fantasy… Although not to worry since I’ve already read CROWN OF MIDNIGHT and I know things DO pick up!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is really the start of a great series and I can already tell I’m going to get really into this one. I’ve already read CROWN OF MIDNIGHT and I’m toying with starting HEIR OF FIRE ASAP!

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BOOKS LIKE THRONE OF GLASS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 Graceling    The Kiss of Deception