Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Number of Pages: 416
Genre: High Fantasy
Where I acquired this book: Amazon
When I read this book: January 5-25 2016
Ratings on a Scale of 1-10
Quality of writing: 9
Plot Development: 9
Ease of Reading: 9
I was a huge fan of Susan’s first trilogy, Something Strange and Deadly (Here is my review of the finale Strange and Ever After), so I was ridiculously excited to read this new series. Picking it up I was a little skeptical, since it is still a huge jump (in my opinion) to go from historical fantasy to high fantasy, but after hearing her talk more about it at her signing, I was confident in her abilities. I was not disappointed at all. This book was refreshingly unique with a magic system that I have never seen before and a focus on the importance of friendship over romance. When I went to her signing in my hometown with Alexandra Bracken, a topic that was brought up several times in the discussion of their books was the Bechdel test, which if you’ve never heard of it before, is about whether a book has a conversation between two female characters that has nothing to do with the other male characters. At first I thought that it was a little ridiculous, because how many books really don’t pass this test? But after hearing this and rereading some of my favorite books, I was shocked at how common it really is to fail the Bechdel test. It was something I didn’t realize I missed until someone pointed it out to me and now I’m craving more books about strong female relationships. Safi and Isuelt work so well together, and no one can come between them. Romantic interests are introduced for the two characters, but it never overshadows the plot or their relationship with each other. Also, those two “love interests”, Merrick and Aeduan, have their own interests and plot points. It didn’t feel like there was a single character in this book who was put in just to drive a main character. Everyone and everything served its own purpose in the world outside of our characters, which gave the world as a whole a sense of realness, that I always appreciate in high fantasies and have found lacking in some other series.
I highly recommend this series to someone looking for a YA high fantasy with a well-developed world, strong female characters, and a kick-ass plot line.
OVERALL RATING (out of 5): 5 stars
Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought! Also comment any fantasy or sci-fi books that pass the Bechdel test for me to read soon!