Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: Windwitch (Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: January 7 - 9 2017
Date Released: January 10th 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

"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."


The more I think about Windwitch, and the Witchlands books in general, the more I fall in love with the series. I loved Truthwitch and the way it introduced us to the four main characters of the series, showing the bonds between the characters and our main ladies Safi and Iseult. In Windwitch though, each character is explored even more and the world expanded.

By the title and prologue, this is Merik’s book. However, Dennard switches between our four MCs which makes me feel like this is a book for all our characters and each of their journeys. This series to me is one that's more character driven than plot driven, and that suits me just fine!

Our main man Merik trudged through Truthwitch with the belief that his family hated him and thought him ill-deserving of the Nubrevnan crown. As a result of various circumstances the Prince is deemed dead and he’s now on a quest to prove that his sister Vivia is the one that destroyed him. This dangerous investigative work drives his story through Windwitch and despite everything, I admired his never dying love for his people and his need to protect those he loves. His desire to prove his sister’s guilt becomes an obsession for him but his eventual growth towards the end warms me. His is a journey of tolerance, acceptance, and a sharp dose of opening one’s eyes to the world around them for the sake of a kingdom.

My heart bled for Safi and everything she went through in Windwitch. Like omg is her life just basically going to be her on the run from everyone? All the kingdoms want her, to use her power or to barter her; the poor girl is being used left, right and centre. And she knows it. Her growth by the end of Truthwitch and her sort of ‘theme’ throughout Windwitch is her selflessness. It’s a real change from the girl I met on the first page of Truthwitch. Safi’s growth to thinking like a Domna, to trying to leverage her worth to help others really shines through in Windwitch but it also lands her in a lot of unfavourable situations. It’s like she can’t help but attract bad luck? It makes me love her more though, her compassion and drive to be better.

Iseult. My girl. My person. Hands down my favourite character. Maybe it’s because she’s got Asian in her blood and I relate to her more? I love her logic and calm. I love that, while it always seems like Safi is the main person because she shines so brightly, Safi needs Iseult too and actually, one isn’t complete without the other. Iseult never for a single moment holds a grudge or ill feelings towards Safi. I mean Safi lands them in a lot of shit but Iseult is just that selfless. She has a lot of inner demons to battle as well as coming to terms with her powers which aren’t what they seem. When I look at Iseult, I see solidarity. I actually love that Safi and Iseult were separated in Windwitch so that the reader could see each be their own person and be independent. Their bond and friendship was established in Truthwitch and Windwitch is about the strength of their connection while apart.

Then there’s Aeduan. Mysterious Aeduan who I started shipping before I even knew his name in Truthwitch. Dennard calls him Baeduan for good reason. This guy is shrouded in mystery and is a walking conflict to be honest. Like I just didn’t know what he’d choose most of the time and I loved that Dennard kept me second guessing myself. Just how morally sound is he? What is his past and connection to the other characters. This guy is mega chill and his vibe is “I’m bored, you don’t matter and I give no fucks” and then he’ll just whip out his sword and start doing his blood magic and I’m like LOOOOOOOL. I love him and I can’t wait for his book (SOOOON. Next year *sobs*).

We’re introduced to other characters as well that really stand out on their own - we finally meet Vivia who is So. Much. More than what Merik thinks. There’s the Empress of Marstok, Vaness who is the strongest Ironwitch EVER. I freaking loved the juxtaposition of these two monarchs. One is fighting for her rightful crown in a council that thinks she’s unworthy, while the other yields so much power it’s like the crown was just given to her. But both are powerful in their own right as we see in the way they can think and act quickly, and most importantly, in their love for their people. I mean they have questionable methods but yaaaas I cannot wait for more of these two.

Plot wise, there’s a lot of politics going on and it’s the intrigue that surrounds this Twenty Year Truce - why, if all the kingdoms don’t want to go to war, do they all start preparing for war. Everything is precarious and there’s STUFF going on in the background that’s pulling strings and I felt like a pawn being placed just so on the chessboard. All the characters have a part to play BUT WHO WILL BE THE ONE THAT CALLS CHECKMATE?

Something that I wished was delved upon more was the way the magic system works. The main elements make sense to me but Iseult’s power I still can’t grasp or picture. I wanted to know exactly how she sees these Threads - is it literally like a person is made of coloured yarn or where do these Threads stretch? If they’re not connection Threads to others but ‘feelings’ then what do they look like? Still hoping this gets explained in later books.

I loved the diversity that came so naturally in this series. It’s a multicultural fantasy which is what one expects in a high-fantasy world - Dennard draws on various ethnicities and features to create races within Witchlands. There’s also diversity of sexuality expressed by a number of characters, and a gender fluid character that plays an important part in the book who warms my heart.

I basically can’t stop gushing about Windwitch and if you haven’t started the series then do it. I breezed through Windwitch (hehe see what I did there) in like 2 days and I couldn’t put it down. Action packed, fast-paced, yet leaving so much room for character growth and exploration while furthering an intriguing plot, I was hooked. I kind of really need Bloodwitch now.

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