Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5)
By: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: February 13th, 2018
Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…
Before Merik returned from the dead…
Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.
Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight―and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.
On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.
Those of you who have been keeping up with the blog will know that Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch series was an unexpectedly delightful fantasy discovery–like, it seemed to have just about everything that you could want from a fantasy story. So of course I had to get Sightwitch, the Prequel novella to the series.
In all honesty, I should have gone back and looked at Truthwitch and Windwitch–I definitely felt as if having a clearer understanding of those books would have made Sightwitch a lot better. As it was, I suspected I missed at least a few tie-ins–and I finally pulled Truthwitch back out to confirm that I had met these characters before. It’s not that I missed everything, but I would have liked to have felt like I was missing less.
But that being said, Sightwitch was an engaging story even despite my forgetfulness. The plot follows Ryber, the oldest ungifted novice at a convent-type place where almost everyone has or will have the ability to see into the future. Written like this I’m getting full-on Lirael vibes…but it’s quickly revealed that something is calling all of the sisters into the mountain where they get their powers, and no one is coming out. When Ryber is left the only person in the convent, it’s up to her to figure out how to get her sisters out.
If you do like Garth Nix’s Lirael (which I do), you will indeed like Ryber. The setting is somewhat similar, with the convent and the seer powers, and there are elements in which Ryber is similar to Lirael (I’m specifically thinking of the ‘OMG a MAN’ freakout they both have, and also the magical animals-who-are-maybe-not-actually-animals following them around). But Sightwitch definitely isn’t a carbon copy of Lirael–instead of leaving the convent, her mission is to go deeper, find its secrets and figure out how to save her sisters.
Ryber is also a charming character. She’s clever, maybe a little bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but clear-headed and brave. She uses the resources at her disposal to figure out what she needs to do and survive the actually pretty terrifying magical mountain maze. Especially once she got over her trepidation and frozenness, I really enjoyed her as a character. I also liked her meeting with Kullen, the somewhat mind-wiped soldier that shows up in the caverns and ultimately helps her. The two of them bounced off of each other really well, and seemed to soften each other’s edges (this is also where I had a feeling of deja vu and looked in Truthwitch to see if I’d met these two before. Spoiler: I had).
But I also liked the format of the book–told in journal entries and pictures, not just of Ryber and her sisters but of a Sightwitch sister who had been long before Ryber’s time, Eridysi. This is where I wish I’d reread Truthwitch, because Eridysi’s parts felt far more like foreshadowing, and I wish I had more of an idea what exactly it was that they were foreshadowing. But it was also enjoyable to learn more about the history and mythology of the Witchlands through the story of someone who had been there, a thousand years ago. A summer project might definitely be to read through all of the Witchlands books again (including Sightwitch) and try to piece together what I think I’m missing.
But anyways, that is beside my point–which is to tell you that this is a very good book, and a really cool story about someone who isn’t destined or prophesied to save things (even someone who doesn’t have a bit of magic), but does it anyways–I liked the theme that sometimes determination and resourcefulness is the same as magic.
I’ve come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, I got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (I’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before I settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.
I’m the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the New York Times bestselling Witchlands books, Truthwitch and Windwitc
h, and if I’m not writing, then I’m busy slaying darkspawn or earning bruises at the dojo.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image and info were provided by the tour hosts.