Thursday, June 2, 2016

Audiobook Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Series:     The Witchlands #1
Pub. Date:Jan. 5, 2016
Publisher:Listening Library
Length:14 hrs 41 min
NarratorCassandra Campbell

The Witchlands are a fantastical world separated into various empires where everyone is born with a different type of witchery. Witches of wind, fire, water and threads seem to be the most common, but there are also the rare witches of iron, blood and truth. The warring empires are operating under a 20 Year Truce, which seems in imminent danger of ending. Our protagonists of the story quickly become pawns in the war on the horizon.

Safiya is a very rare truth witch, and she has had to hide her magic for her entire life for fear of being used against her will. Safiya wants to be free to live her life. She is not interested in responsibilities or grand schemes, she just wants to live independently with her thread sister, Iseault. Safiya was definitely the immature one of the story. She was impulsive and self-absorbed, and her actions often put other people in danger needlessly. She had major lessons to learn throughout the story... but things were looking up for her character by the end.

Iseault is a thread witch, which means she can see the threads of other people. Basically, this allows her to discern emotions and connections.  Iseault is also a Nomatsi, a race who are reviled for some reason that I could not discern.  Maybe it was discussed in the story and I missed it... but I never really understood why people considered her evil, bad luck or "matsi scum." Iseault was the more mature of the pair, but she seemed to be following in Safiya's shadow in this story. I am looking forward to seeing her come into her own.

My favorite character of this story was Admiral Prince Merrick of Nobrevna. Merrick was an honorable and beloved prince whose only objective was to save the starving people of Nobrevna, which had been decimated in the prior war. When he is with transporting the difficult truth witch on board his vessel in order to secure trade for his people, she complicates his life by leaps and bounds. But the thin line between love and hate is apparent between these two who, against the odds, begin to form a romantic connection.

The story was really a big game of cat and mouse through all the Witchlands. Merrick, Safiya, Iseault and a host of secondary characters are trying to make it to the designated location for different reasons. Merrick needs to get everyone there to secure a trade agreement. Safiya is fleeing an undesirable engagement to a political figure. Iseault is following Safiya. They are being chased by multiple parties who want Safiya on their side during the war. So there was a good amount of action that kept the story moving forward.

I do wish there had been a little more world building and explanation. I found myself just going with the flow even though my curiosity threatened to overwhelm the story at times. I wanted to know why there was a prejudice against the Nomatsi, more about the Car-a-Wen (sp?), more about the Carwen monks, the source of the witches' powers, and why the empires were warring.

This review was a bit hard to write because there was a lot going on and multiple points of view. I apologize if anything is misspelled horribly but its hard to tell how some of the strange words/names are spelled when you are listening to the audiobook. The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, performed wonderfully for this story. She did a great job at accents and personalities for the characters, and no two sounded alike. She is definitely a versatile narrator.

I am looking forward to the next book, Wind Witch, which will focus more on Merrick than Safiya. I am also interested to see what role Aeduan plays in the rest of the series. He was an antagonist in this first book, but I have a feeling that will change as the stories progress.