When there are too many characters, but you love them all, or my review of Windwitch

Windwitch

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)

By: Susan Dennard 

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication Date: January 10th, 2017

Format: Hardcover

synopsis

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

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review

4 star (griffin)

For Christmas this year, I preordered the books I knew I would want to read the DAY they came out, and Windwitch was one of them. This book was one I was unbelievably excited to get–if anyone needs to know why, I’d suggest reading my review of the first in the series, Truthwitch.

Truthwitch captured my attention from the first minute I read it, mainly due to the incredibly compelling characters of Safi and Iseult. I loved their easy relationship, their back-and-forth, their unconditional devotion to each other. One of the main sadnesses in Windwitch is that Safi and Iseult are separated for the duration of the book–Safi having been kidnapped by the Marstok Empress Vaness. Still, I almost couldn’t complain too much, since they each had to learn to survive without their other halves, and that alone made Windwitch a fascinating read. Their separate, interlocking struggles to learn to depend on themselves were absorbing. Additionally, Iseult finally figures out a depth to her magic that was hinted at, but not yet fleshed out.

Being the titular character, I did expect more emphasis to be on Merik. And I was right, although not necessarily in the way that I expected. I expected Merik to be on a headlong rush to save Safi, mostly because I adored their romance in the first book. However, Merik is essentially a broken man–not only is his best friend gone, he’s been injured and deprived of his ship and crew in the same fell swoop. I didn’t necessarily like his singleminded focus on revenge, his bloody promise to wreak havoc on the people who hurt him, and it was difficult to read. But at the same time, it was interesting in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Aeduan, too, is an interesting character, mysterious and with hidden depths that weren’t necessarily plumbed in this book. But I appreciated his role, his constant battle between being the person he wants to be and the person he’s expected to be. In addition, I enjoyed how his and Iseult’s uneasy alliance turned into an uneasy friendship and MAYBE something more (please, please, please). Other characters who we get to know include Vivia, Merik’s older sister. Having only seen her through Merik’s eyes as the brutal, cruel older sister trying to seize the throne, it was a surprise and a delight to get to know her point of view and her motivations.

Also, let’s just all take the time to applaud Susan Dennard, not just for setting up what will be a delightful lesbian relationship, but ALSO for inserting a trans character into the book–and not doing it just for diversity points, either. Cam has a real, important, honest-to-goodness role in the book that is in no way changed by her gender. ALL THE APPLAUSE.

My one complaint is that Windwitch seems to suffer from second book syndrome. The rapid-fire plot revelations from book one slow down in this one–or maybe it’s just that the action is split between four different points of view in four different situations, which makes things slower. The book starts off somewhat rocky, as well–I needed a few chapters to really get into the action, and I never felt as fully engrossed as I did in Truthwitch. That being said, the book also delves deeper into something that’s only touched on in Truthwitch, and that I assume will be given more heft in the later books. We get more definition of the Cleaved, more about the weird and wonky things that happen to dead witches, and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Fortunately, I’m excited to say that there are two more books in the series–Bloodwitch and another one that’s obviously going to be called Weaverwitch–so we all have a lot more to look forward to after Windwitch.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.