Truthwitch is a fast-paced fantasy featuring the daring adventures of two best friends. Think Thelma and Louise meets Jason Bourne meets Lord of the Rings!
The story features Safiya and Iseult, two bad-ass chicks with dangerous magical abilities. High-born Safiya is a truthwitch, a rare gift that helps her tell truth from lies, and would make her a valuable asset for any king or noble. Iseult, her BFF, is a Nomatsi threadwitch, Nomatsi being a group that is hated by most of society (I think they are akin to gypsies in traditional European history) and threadwitch meaning she can see people’s threads, or emotions. Their world is turned upside down when an ambush goes awry and they catch the attention of a dangerous bloodwitch, a man who can track a person by their scent across land or sea, and apparently can’t die. Safiya and Iseult, in trying to flee the bloodwitch (who recognizes that Safi is a truthwitch) are plunged into political turmoil that leads them into swashbuckling fights, headlong escapes on horseback, a voyage by sea on the ship of a handsome prince (and a few battles on the sea) and a final culmination with a new dangerous enemy who can control the dead (almost dead? Unclear). And there are some more juicy developments that I won’t share cuz, spoilers. Whew!
The world-building is well done. In this world, people have different types of witcheries, or magical powers. The book is set at the end of a twenty year truce between three powerful empires, and it looks like war is set to explode once again. The setting, cultures and history are interesting and varied. The story whisks you along at a break-neck pace, stopping only briefly for some short vignettes of Safi and Iseult’s friendship, and Safi’s growing romance with Prince Merik, who ended up being a pretty great character. This book will not bore you!
Complaints? It felt a bit like an action movie, and not like the old action movies where you actually know who the bad guy is and understand the plot. It felt like one of the new action movies where the cinematography in the car chase is so wild it makes you feel slightly nauseous, and you can’t follow who is double-crossing who and you walk out wondering if you really understood what just happened. This book is pretty long for a YA, but I felt like it could be longer, or it could be two books, because there was a LOT happening and there really wasn’t enough set-up to understand why everything was happening.
Also, Safi kinda felt like that naturally beautiful entitled girl from high school– you actually do like her–but are also annoyed that she has everything in life handed to her on a platter but still manages to complain about it. I really liked Iseult though. I hope she gets some more pages in the next book.
Take-away? Four out of five stars. I think this book bit off more than it could chew, but really that just means I would have liked MORE. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think lovers of fantasy will find this to be a great adventure and a fast read. I will definitely read the next book, Windwitch!