book review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Ah so, I’m back. It’s been a few months! Only because it took me a few months to finish this book.

So, Truthwitch.

I’m not impressed.

This book was so hype and the premise sounded so good that I couldn’t resist, but when I actually started reading this book I was met with info dump that sounded like it came straight out a textbook (like the ones I use as my coasters). The info dump was neither interesting nor helpful in deciphering what the hell was going on. Susan Dennard has a clear vision of what the world is like but fails to convey that in her storytelling. The world in this story is filled with magic – unfortunately, the writing captured very little of that if any.

CharactersDidn’t care about the main ones. At all. 

– Safi sounds like this world’s version of SJM. Her dialogue was so hard to read because she sounded much younger than she actually was (like a preteen with attitude). Though, the letter she left Merik made her grow a little on me. I suppose it’s fair to say she gets key development at the near end when she makes an important decision, so she gets points there.

-Iseult was alright, I guess. More tolerable than Safi most of the time, but nothing to write home about. I do have to comment on why Iseult is so attached to Safi when she’s so stupid. I understand from a character writing perspective that Iseult is alone in the world besides her threadfamily, so it is reasonable to have her be attached to only and trust a select few people. What I find questionable is her undying loyalty to Safi, or rather we aren’t shown WHY or HOW Safi has earned this loyalty from Iseult. This mostly stems from the fact that 1) Safi doesn’t impress me and 2) I still don’t understand the basis of Safi and Iseult’s friendship besides the short tell-not-show version we got. I bring this up because I’m also like this when it comes to trusting people and it takes a lot to get to the gooey center. Hence why I’m scrutinizing so this aspect of their relationship so much.

“But Alice, people are imperfect!” Well so is this book, but I gotta have standards.

Speaking of standards, I was told this book was a great book about female friendship… so this is the standard for a great female friendship in YA? Do YA authors know how friendships btw girls work at all? Do female authors have female friends???? In short, I actually didn’t like the two main characters at all. I probably would have liked them more if someone else wrote them because the way they were presented to me in this book didn’t make me care about them at all, which is a shame because this book is touted as a girl power book for the super wokest of wokes. No way do I expect the characters or the writing to be perfect, but putting in the effort to make me care about THE MAIN, INTEGRAL RELATIONSHIP isn’t asking too much, right?

– Evrane and Leopold are by far the most interesting characters that we see more than a glimpse of.

– Aeduan had the most chemistry with Leopold tbh, but I know theyre gonna flesh out his connection with Iseult more later because he’s (SPOILER) Nomatsi too. His lineage is more interesting than Aeduan himself so far.

– Merik is on my shit list because he’s disrespectful to Ryber and his aunt and all he does is talk about the damn trade deal and wrinkles in his shirt. The insta-lust between him and Safi was not my taste and didn’t help him either. His character even has a good set up but he fails to be anything more than a stock prince with a temper imo. To quote Derek from the Swan Princess, “What else is there?”.

Relationships (not just romantic but this book loves giving us some of that anyway)

– Safi and Iseult – I actually still don’t know why these two are friends. We’re told one of them saved the other and then ever since they’ve been best buds.

– Safi and Merik – Dull, more instant than my ramen.

– Iseult and Aeduan – I hope this isn’t really a romance at first because their dynamic one of the only interesting things Truthwitch has going on.

– Ryber and Kullen – shoehorned in, did not care much about them. It was sad when Kullen died… I guess… because my girl Ryber D:

– Aeduan and people from his past – I’m all for it.

Plotwasn’t sure if there was one until the last 15% 

– I kept waiting for shit to happen but it didn’t until I was almost at the point of DNFing (again)

– It’s just Safi and Iseult running and then running some more from place to place. It’s like the Honest Movie Trailers of Lord of the Rings except without the voice over and there’s more running. There wasn’t a good balance between action and character development. While there was a sprinkle of character here and there, nothing really drove it home.

– This book suffers from the amount of POVs we’re made to follow. The ones that were vaguely interesting were Iseult’s and Aeduan’s. Also I noticed that in one chapter they shifted from Safi to Iseult’s POV right in the midde of the chapter without warning.

– It’s so obvious that our main girls are the Cahr Awen but the question is wtf is that and what are they supposed to do (if it was mentioned, I forgot)

– Admittedly the last 10-15% of this book was quite interesting because we finally get something remotely interesting e.g. character development and reveals about Aeduan.

Worldbuilding – probably thought out well but not presented coherently

– The terms in this book are quite jarring. I resorted to looking them up on the Witchlands wiki because I was lost. You see, if this terminology and the culture and politics were presented better DESPITE the info dump, I wouldn’t have a problem with all these terms about classifying witchery. That’s just not what happened here.

– I don’t quite understand why people seem to hate the Nomatsi so much. Is it just YA convention nowadays that everyone hates the nomadic peoples or what?

– I honestly thought the Puppeteer was some ancient evil released upon the land, but it turns out she’s just some girl with idiosyncratic threadwitch powers? Uh, ok. No wonder her passages sounded so childish.

– I don’t understand why Truthwitchery is so sought after besides to make Safi all the more like Celaena Sardothien (very sough after, I mean)

Writing style

I found a lot of the phrasing to be similar to SJM’s. This is only natural because at that time SD and SJM are/were besties and have obviously influenced each other. One of the main differences I found is that it was hard to read this book/SD’s writing quickly as much as I wanted to. Hell, in comparison I had an easier time reading Bardugo’s writing, which I notoriously couldn’t get into either.

Other

– Can white authors STOP describing Asian or Asian-coded characters with the slant/slit eye thing? LEMME LINK THE WRITING WITH COLOR POST AGAIN ‘cause doing it once wasn’t enough: LINK

K thx bye.

– How can this be considered progressive for YA if the beauty standards upheld in this are still blonde and white… (like in SJMs books)? IDK someone enlighten me.

– I was looking through reviews by other people and this one made me laugh: LINK “…I thought I was watching white girl conversation from a Disney tween show” MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, TERESA.

TL;DR : 1.5 out of 5 stars

– Loved Leopold and Evrane. Aeduan was the only remotely interesting main character.

– The worldbuilding seems to make sense in Dennard’s mind, but I wish she’d throw the reader a bone because I’m not a mind reader.

– I was very disappointed by the two female MCs and the fact this book was hyped as THE female friendship YA book when it barely scratched the surface for a story about with a female-female friendship as the main relationship in the book.

– The plot actually exists very late in the game and there’s lot’s of escaping.

– The writing style was hard to get into but I think of it as SJM-lite.

– Also will white people stop with the tilt/slanty eyes for describing Asian characters? Thanks.

YA Tumblr once again HIGHLY recommended me a book they advertized it as amazing and woke, but it was actually boring and took me ages to read despite my best efforts to finish it off quickly.

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