Series: The Witchlands, Book One
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult and Romance
Publisher: Tor Teen
I found that I had a really interesting and unexpected experience whilst listening to Truthwitch via Audiobook. At first, I was a little less than impressed. A lot of the criticisms that I’d heard about this book following its release rang true. However upon finishing this book, I was in disbelief I contemplated DNF’ing it earlier on, because by the end I was absolutely enthralled with the story and the characters.
There is so much to grasp in this book, such as a plethora of new characters, terminology, empires and their respective political systems and the magic system. Trying to absorb all this new information can really take you out of the story. Therefore I can understand how this would affect someones reading experience or perhaps why some people even DNF’d this book. The reader is really expected to just go with the information given without a ton of explanation. Which can either be a good or bad thing depending on how much exposition you enjoy.
Eventually a lot of the information pieces itself together along the way, you just have to hang in there to see the potential this book has! Ultimately, I think Susan Dennard did her absolute best to disseminate information to the reader and I really appreciate how she’s created such a vast world for readers to enjoy.
The two central characters Safiya and Iseult where fantastic leads. It’s so refreshing to read a young adult novel where the two main female characters don’t secretly hate one another. They have very different personalities that work extremely well together. The theme of friendship was a prevalent underlying themethroughout this book and I loved the emphasis on it.
Aeduan, a blond monk, is also a fascinating character. I personally wasn’t as attached to him, but I can’t wait to spend more time with this character in Windwitch. I also really adored Merik, he makes me reminiscent of characters such Chaol from Throne of Glass Sarah J. Maas and Finn from The Star Thief by Jamie Grey. As with Aeduan, I’d like to spend more time with him.
Another aspect I loved was the romance. It was a focal point of the story, yet didn’t overshadow the plot or friendships, which was fantastic. I was absolutely living for Merik and Safi’s relationship. It simultaneously felt like a good slow-burn romance, but there was also some parts that implied it was a little insta-lovey. For example, when they’re dancing together and their connection is described as ‘something as powerful as the wind.’ I think this could’ve been handled better so that it wouldn’t negate the slow-burn aspect of their relationship.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about my listening experience with this book via audiobook. I thought Cassandra Campbell was an excellent narrator and was well suited for this speaking role. Her speaking voice reminded me a little of Sarah Koenig (from Serial), like I experience the same experience whilst listening to Campbell and Koenig and that is I was engaged throughout the entirety of the story. I enjoyed how she used her American accent for the narration, and then employed an accent during the characters dialogue. She was, for the most part, fantastic at them. My only criticism is that I thought Safi and Iseult’s voices were very similar… initially I struggled to distinguish the two and they were probably a little too high pitched for my personal liking.
Alongside this (not a criticism of the audiobook), I think it’d be beneficial to have read this book. I think I would’ve better absorbed the world if I had visually seen how the characters names were spelt, how places were spelt etc. for some reason. Alongside this, I predominantly listen to audiobooks whilst I drive (like 99% of the time) and so natural I’m not always mentally processing want I’m listening to if I’m concentrating on driving. In the future I’m probably less inclined to listen to fantasy books via audio.