Hello booklovers! It’s me again, back with a review of one of 2017’s most anticipated releases: Susan Dennard’s Windwitch!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Like many in the bookish community, I read Truthwitch in 2016 and LOVED IT so much. Truthwitch was one of those magical hyped books that was actually worth the hype, which is always a pleasant surprise. I fell hard for Safi and Iseult, their wonderful threadsister bond and the elaborate system of magic and witcheries. But as with all hyped things, expectations will run high when there’s a sequel on the horizon…
Don’t get me wrong, booklovers – I enjoyed Windwitch immensely. There’s a lot to admire here. But was it as good as Truthwitch?… in truth, not quite. But I still liked it a lot and here’s why:
As much as I loved Truthwitch, my one criticism at the time was the breakneck pacing: the reader gets dumped into the Witchlands without a lot of explanation and right away we’re in the thick of the action with Safi and Iseult. Bits of backstory and the history of the land are filled in along the way but the action is relentless. While it made for a very exciting read, I would have preferred a bit more establishing of things before diving straight in. But that’s a matter of personal preference.
With Windwitch, almost the opposite is true. While the book is neither overly long nor does it cover a considerable amount of time, it moves a lot slower than its predecessor and it ended up being much more character driven than plot driven as a result. While I greatly appreciated the new layer of character development, I wanted a bit more of the action too. But between these two books, Dennard has proven that she can do action and character development, which gives me hope that she’ll be able to balance both these aspects in the next book in the series.
I also have to talk about these wonderful characters. I’ll admit I wasn’t that keen on Merik in the first book, but because we got to see his POV this time, I came to a much better understanding of what makes him tick. The girls were as wonderful as ever and the addition of Princess Vivia was a highlight for me. We hear a lot about her from Merik in the first book but it was really nice to see her on the page. She became one of my favourites by the end and it was wonderful to see an LGBT princess for a change (sidenote: please let her and Stix get together! They’d be such a badass power couple.) I also loved seeing more of Aeduan’s perspective – to me, he’s one of the most fascinating characters in the bunch. The secondary players, characters like Cam and Vaness, also felt more fleshed out this time. Cam is my baby. Cam needs to be protected. And Vaness is awesome. And little Owl! I need more of these characters in the next one. It took me longer to read the first half of the book but by the end, I was right back into it. Now, when does book three come out? I need it now!
- Coverart/Book design: 9.5/10. Merik looks badass on the cover.
- Plot/Concept: 9/10. Still love it.
- Main character: 9/10. Hard to grade this one since there are multiple POVs and I like some more than others.
- Secondary characters: 9/10. As I mentioned above, they were more fleshed out this time.
- Setting/Worldbuilding: 9/10. Nicely done. I love books with maps in them.
- Writing: 8.5/10. Great dialogue. Some odd word choices here and there.
- Pacing: 8/10. Uneven, as mentioned in the review.
- Romance: 8.5/10. I’m sensing a slowburn between Iseult and Aeduan, which I love. Also love the idea of Vivia and Stix. Missed having Safi and Merik together, though I was never 100% sold on that pairing. Not keen on Safi and the chiseled cheater, so I hope that’s not the way things go.
- Ending: 9/10. Sets things up nicely for the next book.
- Overall: 79.5/90. Somewhere in the A to A- range; a solid four stars. Pacing problems were the biggest issue, but not enough of a problem to keep me from reading and being invested in this world. Looking forward to seeing where it goes next!