Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan DennardTitle: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Barnes & Noble
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 15, 2016
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)

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.


I wasn’t going to pick up TRUTHWITCH — at least not for a while — simply because of the incredible, months-long hype that surrounded it. To be frank, it really killed my interest for the book and having finished Susan Dennard’s previous series and ending up unimpressed, I wasn’t anxious to dive right into TRUTHWITCH. I was offered a review copy of the audiobook from the publisher and with so many friends who had already given it high praise, I figured it was as good of a time to start as any.

My whole experience with TRUTHWITCH was a rocky one. I started the audiobook and was really enjoying the story but the longer I listened, the more the narrator bothered me. I actually was perfectly fine with her narration of the story but the dialogue was a killer. I couldn’t stand the voices she used for the girls and Safi and Iseult ended up coming off as whiny, immature, and weak. Not wanting this to affect my whole experience, I ended up stopping the audiobook and I purchased a print copy instead.

Things were going okay until I realized I had hit a wall with just about everything. I couldn’t bring myself into this book and I was struggling to pick it back up. I had some serious trouble with the pacing most of all and couldn’t find a good balance between action, world-building, and character development. I ended up feeling like a whole lot was happening but it really wasn’t moving the plot forward at all. I felt no closer to development, a surprise, a turning point, or resolution and it started to get really hard for me to keep reading. Quite frankly, I was bored.

I also really struggled with the world-building. It’s one of my favorite parts of fantasy novels and I absolutely love learning about political and social structures, geography, lore, and history. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in the beginning to introduced something in passing that gets used later in the book (Sarah J. Maas is a PRO at this) so the reader already has knowledge of what it is and is excited about its involvement in a major plot point. There were so many things that happened towards the end that I didn’t realize were even important until the characters were discussing them. I also would have loved to learn more about each ability/power, why it was important, how it ranked in comparison to other powers, why Safi’s Truthwitchery was so incredibly important, why stasis was so important to Iseult and her powers, the limits to the powers, how people ended up having them, etc etc. Some of these things were touched upon but I just wanted so much more detail and backstory and history that I found it really lacking for my taste.

The characters also really didn’t grab me at all. You’d think two amazing friends and strong girls would immediately hook me but somehow they didn’t. Maybe it was the narration that soured me on this because try as I did, I never really got those voices out of my head and I never got over the fact that I didn’t feel much depth to them. I think I connected more to Iseult than Safi because I had kind of a hard time with Safi’s hard-headedness at times. Instead of strength in Safi, I saw immaturity and a lack of patience.

The romance didn’t really get me either. I really liked the introduction of Merik and the dance scene was GREAT but other than that, I didn’t feel the chemistry. The cute romantic things that came later were just too late and I was already stuggling with the book. The chemistry just didn’t feel natural for me. I had already lost interest in the book at that point and was pretty much racing to finish (I READ THIS FOR A MONTH) so nothing was really interesting me at that point in time and I really just wanted to finish.

I am super bummed that I just didn’t latch onto much of anything in this book. I just felt like the development wasn’t there (I guess for me — so many people loved it so maybe I’m just the black sheep here) and things were introduced with no history so I was struggling to realize what they were and why they were so important. TRUTHWITCH was just sadly not a hit for me. This may be my last Susan Dennard book because I really lost steam at the end of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy and this one didn’t end up changing my mind on what I was missing from Susan Dennard’s first series. I’m not sure hype or persuasion could get me to read another book since I seem to be the unpopular opinion on her books.


“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

truthwitch gr updates


Safi // Character Obsessions: Friendship, duty, freedom, honesty. 
I just never quite got on board with Safi. She seemed a bit too hot-headed and/or immature, making decisions hastily. I feel like it’s one thing to get into trouble because it’s cute for the book or it’s that sort of character but it seemed like Safi got into trouble because she ended up putting herself there and it kind of bothered me.
Iseult // Character Obsessions: Friendship, threads, family, honor. 
I connected a bit more to Iseult than to Safi but I still didn’t connect much. I felt like even though we do get some of her history and her past, it was only just a tiny bit and I wanted to spend so much more time getting to know her.


Kept Me Hooked On: Books with hype. I gave into the hype and ended up reading this one. I think it was a bit too hyped up and that didn’t help but I also don’t think I would have felt differently even if it hadn’t been.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. I LOVE learning about a fantasy world. I just wanted so much more of this in TRUTHWITCH.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I seem to be the black sheep. There have been a few others who seem to share similar opinions but the vast majority of my friends LOVED this. I’d say check out a few more reviews before you take my word for it.



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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7 thoughts on “Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan Dennard

  1. Jo

    This book is on my TBR but I’m a little more cautious about reading it now than I was initially as I’ve started to hear more mixed reviews. I appreciate your thoughts on it, makes me consider more carefully whether I want to read it or not.

    1. Brittany Post author

      It’s so hard to say! Some people LOVED it (and people who I usually agree with!) but it just didn’t work for me.

  2. Lauren @ SERIESous Book Reviews

    Although I rated this book a 5 on Goodreads, it was more of a 4.5/high 4 for me. I really enjoyed the premise, it kept my interest and I like that the action started from the get-go.

    I was very disappointed in the world-building. I had no idea what certain terms were or why they were being used (cleaving, threadstones etc). I felt that it was seriously lacking. Like, did I miss a novella that explains all of these? Am I supposed to know simply by their name? It really frustrated me.

    So I suppose my rating is inflated, but alas that is what happens when Goodreads doesn’t offer half-stars.

  3. Andrea

    I wanted to love this book. I didn’t. I was confused the entire time I read it. And it took FOREVER to read it. I actually kept checking to see if it was a sequel and I had missed something because it started in the middle of action without world building, character introductions, or any summary of the different witches and their powers. Disappointing.

  4. Katheryn

    I haven’t read Truthwitch but to be honest it’s not one that has even appealed to me, yet so many people go on about how great it is, it’s nice to finally have a review that doesn’t think everything’s fabulous. lol.

  5. Gwen @ The Book Lounge

    Ah how refreshing it was to wake up to this email in my inbox this review expresses my feelings exactly. This is the first Dennard book I read and I felt like the whole time I was chopping down this huge tree. I just wasn’t invested at all. I would glaze over stuff and just keep reading. I was confused as all get out because nothing was explained well or stood out as important. Glad I’m not the only one who has an unpopular opinion with this one.

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