Truthwitchby Susan Dennard
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars

I have been looking forward to this book close to a year, ever since I saw it pitched as “Avatar: The Last Airbender” meets pirates. It was hyped so extensively I actually worried that I would be disappointed (a la Red Queen) but thank goodness my fears were unfounded. This story is just plain fun! Although the first few chapters took some time to suck me in, once I reached 50 pages I was hooked.

Technically, the story is a lot of world-building mixed in with chase scenes across the world, but it was so enjoyable I didn’t care—these characters have my attention and I’d follow them anywhere! It really feels like an old-fashioned fantasy romp from my Tamora Pierce days, with light-hearted quips and serious friendships amidst all the adventure you could want. Cinematic and carefully crafted. I’ll rein in the fangirling now…!

Safi and Iseult are two friends on the run from their expected roles (for Safi it’s the political and social responsibilities of a domna, for Iseult it’s a Threadwitch apprenticeship in her tribe that she can’t hope to accomplish). Their unquestioning commitment to each other is what has gotten them into and out of scrapes for six years—until a heist gone wrong lands the girls in more trouble than they ever bargained for. Everyone seems to be hunting them for different reasons and they have nowhere to turn. Suddenly their abandoned pasts are catching up to them and a stranger destiny is looming before them. Throw in a Bloodwitch bounty-hunter seeking Safi’s coveted truth-seeing ability, a beleaguered prince on the high seas trying to help his country, and some secret plots between kingdoms, and you have an amazing setup for a series!

What I enjoyed the most was the exploration of the bonds (or Threads) between the characters. The story explores all the motivations we face with mundane and massive decisions. What is best for ourselves, our friends and family, or a country? Usually you can’t have all three. What do you sacrifice and what do you save? What if you have to decide within minutes? I love considering questions like that through fiction.

My biggest critique would only be that the book does feel like a setup more than a standalone novel (as first books in a series typically do), but the writing is solid and this should definitely be on any fantasy-lover’s list.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Truthwitch is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce – The Circle of Magic quartet and The Circle Opens quartet features four teens with different types of magic whose intense, unyielding friendships help them defeat evil sorcerers and unite cultures. Adventures abound, and it’s fun watching these characters grow up. These were some of my favorites when I was younger and Pierce is an author worth reading.
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – Cas is captured by the Pirate Queen Santa Elena to train a sea monster for her (instead of training them to kill pirates). See my review here.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore – Katsa’s magical gift is killing, and her uncle uses it to control her. But when a foreign prince allies with her to save his kingdom, Katsa wonders if her Grace is actually something else, and if she can escape her uncle long enough to find out. This is more in-depth than Truthwitch but has a similar interesting take on magic. See my review here.
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Susan Dennard’s real-life Threadsister’s series about an assassin removed from her life sentence of hard labor to compete for the role of King’s Champion (i.e. sanctioned assassin). Celaena Sardothien’s epic story is filled with magic, mystery, and veiled destinies. See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I recommend this because this story has another awesome female friendship at its heart, but it was much darker than Truthwitch. See my review here.
  • Abarat by Clive Barker – Candy Quackenbush finds herself in an archipelago where every hour of the day has its own island and she discovers she is destined to save them all. Beautiful artwork by the author fully illustrates this series!

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