Truthwitch is a book I’ve been vaguely interested in for a long time, but just somehow never got round to reading. Partly, I think, I was never really grabbed by the US cover (not a fan of models on covers) – so when I saw this gorgeous graphic edition, I took the plunge!
Book: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Read before: No
Ownership: Birthday present
From the very beginning, this book grabbed me. I love gentleman rogue characters, and Safi and Iseult begin the book as a female version of this, holding up a carriage. From that point, their story takes wild swings through magic, balls, piracy, and battles, and I loved every single second! If you were deliberately writing me a fantasy novel I’d fall for, I think that this ticks almost every box.
It’s really, really cool to see a book, especially a fantasy book, where the primary relationship is that of sisters rather than of lovers. These girls have been through a lot together, and their loyalty and love for each other is a driving force throughout the plot, as well as making them incredibly easy to identify with. There is romance, and I feel like this is going to be explored further in the sequel, but it’s never the defining experience for either Safi or Iseult, or indeed for their possible partners. Dennard has created complex, truly believable characters, not simply plot vehicles.
In terms of the plot, though, what an adventure! Every step is logical, but captivating, and you end up in a very different place than the first pages would imply. I loved the magic system (largely elemental, but with smudged boundaries) and the concept of Thread-families. The world-building is cleverly, subtly done. I loved the richly textured Venaza City and the creak of the pirate ship, and even the racism against Nomatsi characters is perfectly pitched (and dealt with).
Overall, this book is a new favourite, and I can’t wait to get hold of Windwitch and Sightwitch. If you love the Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch, but prefer your adventure a little more upfront and your leads a little more female, then Truthwitch will be perfect!
5 out of 5 cats (plus the one above)!