8:00 am EST, January 5, 2016

‘Truthwitch’ book review: A fantasy saga for the feminist generation

Safi sees your lies. Iseult knows your loves. Wild fire and steely ice, together they’re two halves of a formidable whole. More than best friends, they’re Threadsisters — soulmates in the truest sense of the word.

Living in a fantasy world where certain people are born with elemental gifts, each of these two young women is trapped by the dictations society imposes on her. As a Truthwitch, Safi must keep her very rare, very coveted powers a secret if she doesn’t want to end up a pawn in the aristocratic games of the nobility she was born into. As a nomad and social pariah, Iseult’s Threadwitch magic helps her see the emotional ties that bind the world around her, while also firmly establishing her as an outcast to be feared.

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Content only in their firm friendship, the two girls are living for the chance to run away from their otherness and establish a life of freedom apart from the judgment and expectations of high society. Destiny apparently has other plans however, and their own inability to keep out of trouble unwittingly tosses them at the center of a continental conflict.

Now hunted by an assassin monk and reluctantly aligned with a desperate prince from a dying kingdom, Safi and Iseult are determined to hold onto each other and their freedom amidst empires entangled on the brink of war.


‘Truthwitch’ Book Review

To begin, I should warn you that I wrote this review while listening to Princess Leia’s girl-power playlist, because that’s just the kind of mood-music this riveting epic calls for. In Truthwitch, Susan Dennard delivers a fantasy saga for the feminist generation by creating a diverse, complex world everyone can enjoy.

I’ll be upfront and tell you that I was rooting hard for Truthwitch considering Susan Dennard is one of the most generous authors around — (seriously, go sign up for her biweekly newsletter for some incredible writing tips!) But even with my high expectations, Truthwitch did not disappoint. In short: Truthwitch is a swashbuckling adventure about the power of friendship.

For fantasy fans, fantasy literature has traditionally been a showcase of epic bromances (Frodo and Sam, Jon and Sam, Samson and his hair), but with Truthwitch, we finally have a couple of gal pals taking center stage with their womance of mythic proportions. Safi and Iseult are the center of each other’s worlds, and it’s incredibly refreshing to read a young adult novel where women not only support each other, but actively put each other first before the men in their lives.

Don’t worry, it’s not all girl-power and friendship bracelets, though — there’s plenty of simmering romance to be had, too. As much fun as the girls are to follow, I found myself most compelled by the very real, very terrifying problems of Nubrevna’s prince Merik, who’s desperate to save his starving kingdom. His Windwitch powers are pretty fascinating on their own, but it’s his family’s dynamics that are sure to be one of the most intriguing elements going forward in the series. Considering we know the author was inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender, Merik’s family definitely has a little bit of a Fire Nation flair to them, so his deviously cunning sister should be one to watch out for in future books. Then again, maybe it’s just me who lets evil princesses pull on her heartstrings…

I also feel compelled to give a shoutout to the diversity in this novel. Susan Dennard has created such a complex fantasy world, and because it’s loosely based on the Austrian, Venetian, and Ottoman(!!) empires, many of the power players are people of color, including one of our two fearsome leading ladies, Iseult, and a fascinating Ironwitch empress I refuse to refer to as anything other than Sexy-Toph (okay, fine, her name is Vaness.)

It’s too bad the holiday season is over, otherwise I would demand you stuff Truthwitch inside the stocking of everyone you love because in my opinion, the only thing wrong with this five-star book is that we have to wait until 2017 to read the sequel.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is available now. You can add it to your Goodreads list, or purchase it from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Indiebound.

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