On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
Me and this book had quite a confusing start. Imagine my head surrounded by question marks every time a new name or a new witch term pops out without prior explanations of what they are and how they are relevant. Which leads me to having a bit of a hard time wrapping my brains on the magic system. A lot of things that needed explanation weren’t really explained until later in the book. It felt like being dropped on the darker parts of the Witchlands and you have to figure things out on your own because the author forgot to give you a torch. At first it was hard to remember all the different kinds of witches and what they can do. But once you get the hang of it the story actually feels good to read. A glossary would have been very helpful though. I would have enjoyed this a lot more than I did if there was one.
Sometimes justice was all about the small victories.
Aside from all that, everything else in this book was good. One thing I particularly love was the friendship being a major component to the story. The deep bond of loyalty and genuine friendship between the main characters and their Threadsister / Threadbrother is something I don’t see much often in YA. I just love the idea of having a threadsister by your side when things get shitty and how one completes the other in a way. Susan Dennard’s portrayal of friendship is one of kind amazing. And I would love to see more of this kind of relationships on my future reads. Of course, this book didn’t run short of factors that brings chaos –a looming war, dead witches brought back to life to be controlled like puppets, power hungry leaders who wants to conquer all of Witchlands –but the bonds of friendship stood out on top of everything.
The story has four POV’s: the threadsisters Safi and Iseult, the Nubrevnan prince Merik, and Aeduan the Bloodwitch. I usually have no problems with multiple POV’s but for this book, the constant switching of perspectives without warning or even a hint on whose POV you’re switching to made things a little bit confusing for a second.
It wasn’t freedom she wanted. It was belief in something—a prize big enough to run for and to fight for and to keep on reaching toward no matter what.
I love how this book started –with Safi and Iseult already on the thick of things. And from there everything turns to worse for them. At the mention of a super scary Bloodwitch who can track the girls through scent, the book just screams interesting to me. And with the same time it made me wonder why Safi’s Truthwitch ability means so much when Aeduan’s Bloodwitch abilities –quick regeneration, can easily distinguish one witch from the other through the smell of their blood alone –would be more useful to any kingdom?
By the time I was reading Iseult’s POV I thought this was going to be that book where I love one character’s POV so much that I’d find the other one boring. But no. Both Safi and Iseult were equally likeable characters. Although they’re flawed and one can’t seem to think sensibly when the other wasn’t around. But together they’re one badass to the bone team.
Like Safi and Iseult, Merik’s and Kullen’s friendship was just as enviable. I quite enjoyed the bromance in there. With the way they supports and protects each other, they might as well be true brothers by blood.
Mhe verujta. It was the most sacred of Nomatsi phrases—a phrase that meant trust me as if my soul were yours. It was what the Moon Mother had told the Nomatsi people when she guided them out of the war-filled far east. It was what parents said to their children when they kissed them good night. It was what Heart-Threads said in their marriage vows.
I did liked how the romance develops between Safi and Merik. Even though they felt attracted towards the other, both of them were trying to ignore their feelings for the longest time as they try to focus on more important things at hand. And I like that. It’s like diving into all that action without losing the romance entirely. Much as I love those two, it was Iseult’s and Aeduan’s story I’m most excited about. They weren’t even in friendly terms in this book. But they have this certain pull that draws me into them and makes me want to see more of them together.
Overall, this book was just a little bit above my “okay” standard. The pacing was good. The concept was interesting. It does take time before you get used to the terms and witch abilities but beyond that I don’t have much issues about this book. Although I didn’t give this a five star rating, I think this could still be a solid read for those who love YA fantasy. I would happily recommend this if you are looking for kick-ass female protagonists, perilous adventures, and enviable stories of friendships. I’m eager to get my hands on the next book.