posted at Monday, March 20th, 2017 at 8:00 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #2
Published by Tor Teen on January 10, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
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Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…
After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.
When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?
After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.
Before reading Windwitch, I reread Truthwitch. I was a bit nervous to do so honestly, because I’d struggled with it a bit and I’d built that up in my head. On reread, though, the confusing elements, now that I knew what was coming, didn’t bother me. There are definitely still some flaws, and I wasn’t wrong in my initial review, but I was able to appreciate a lot of things I couldn’t the first time, like how funny Safi’s POV is, for example. The first time, Truthwitch was a 3.5 but on reread it was an unputdownable 4.5. There’s something about how dense these books are that makes them a bit of a struggle on first read but ultimately amazing, which is exactly what’s happened again with Windwitch.
Where I breezed through my reread of Truthwitch in two days, Windwitch took me six days. Though consistently high in quality, Windwitch proved a bit of a slog. A bit tedious, to be quite honest. There are a few main factors that cause this, and I’ll get into that. I didn’t dislike anything in this book, but I would have if I’d tried to force myself to blaze through. I took my time, reading most of the book in spurts of just one chapter. At the end, Dennard ramps up the action, and Windwitch bursts to vibrant, intense life, and I read the last 150 pages or so in one sitting. Dennard’s amazing at intense climaxes.
Truthwitch ends basically every chapter on a cliffhanger, making it a hard book to put down, because something dramatic just happened and you need to know what’s going to happen next. Windwitch doesn’t use this authorial trick of making a book a page-turner. It’s so much easier to put the book down. That change was necessary, though, because there are so many more POVs and the characters are all in different places. Each chapter (and generally within each chapter), the POV shifts to a completely different location. This style is common in high fantasy, which has large casts and massive scope, and it does often result in making the books a bit of a slog to page through. Ultimately it’s worth it, because what you sacrifice in readability you gain back in world building.
The Witchlands is lush with world building. This series is legit epic fantasy, which we don’t get all that much in YA actually. There’s so much detail, artfully woven in. Actually, if anything, Dennard weaves the world building in too naturally, because sometimes (especially in book one) characters talk about stuff and you have no idea what they’re discussing and you end up confused. That doesn’t happen much in Windwitch, thankfully.
We get to see a lot more of the world in Windwitch, and we learn a bit more about the big villains of the series. There’s some second book syndrome going on here, honestly. There’s not as much of a cohesive plot arc within this book. Dennard’s building a lot of stuff up that will come to play in the later novels. She does a nice job with it, relying on character arcs to keep the book feeling impactful. I actually didn’t notice until just now that the book didn’t really have an overarching plot of its own (as opposed to the series’ overarching plot), so it’s not a huge problem.
Though Truthwitch also had multiple POVs, Windwitch adds in a bit more. Also, there’s a lot more time spent with the other POVs; the bulk of the storytelling was with Safi and Iseult in book one, but now it’s more evenly shared. There’s a lot of Merik’s and Vivia’s POVs here. Their POVs were the weakest for me on the whole, because until the end I wasn’t totally sure who Vivia was. Merik’s POV is funny because he’s trying really hard to be a badass, but then he’ll trip or something, but he does a lot of going around and moping (which to be fair Dennard’s super mean to him in this book) while not actually accomplishing much. I’m so curious to see what Dennard’s going to do with Merik. And I’m thrilled about badass lesbian pirate queen Vivia.
As per usual, my fave POVs are Safi and Iseult. Safi was easily my favorite POV in book one, because she’s so much funnier than everyone else, but she’s a bit more staid here because she’s going through some shit. It’s a nice character arc book for her, and her burgeoning relationships with Vaness and Caden are exciting. As with everything else, I’m so excited to see what Dennard is going to do with this, because honestly I have very little idea what she’s going to do, aside from knowing who the big villains are.
Iseult and Aeduan stole the show as my absolute favorites. Though their vibe isn’t romantic (YET), they’re learning to trust each other and care for one another, and it’s amazing. Pretty sure they’d still try to kill someone who said they were friends, but they’re progressing. They’re the only characters from book one who are hanging out together, so that did give them an edge on interest level. Plus, they have a bit more high stakes tension going consistently; they’re most often in danger of the cast as a whole. Both of them have really amazing character arcs, with Iseult evolving the most over the course of this book.
Windwitch didn’t really hit me emotionally much on this first read, but I’m positive that it will be a favorite when I inevitably reread them both before I read book three next year. This is a series that improves with time and familiarity, which is a sure sign of quality and endurance. I also know that this series will only get better from here. Dennard’s one of my favorite authors, and I cannot wait to see how phenomenal this series will become.
“Oh, I know!” Safi clapped her hands, delighted by her own genius. “I shall call you Un-empressed.”
“Please,” Vaness said coldly, “stop this immediately.”
Safi absolutely did not.
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: