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.
TBH when I picked this book up in the first place I was really excited for it! But my feeling towards it changed quickly as I struggled through the first few chapters. If this wasn’t my book club book of the month, I may have put it down after the first several chapters. For about the first two thirds of the book, I was very aware that I was reading a story and was slowly counting down the pages until the end.
The characters came off as quite two-dimensional and the author relied too heavily on the spectacle of the girls’ witch powers as they lacked real personality. For the last third of the book, though, the characters suddenly seemed more developed and real to me. Safi and Iseult ended the novel on a high note!
I also had a problem with the writing style. Again, the first two thirds of the novel were the worst for this, but the last third seemed to get it together: the author often used “telling” rather than “showing” – which can work such as with Harry Potter – but it really fell flat here. The writing style made the whole story seem very bland, even though there was almost non-stop action! But towards the end, the writing improved (but I can’t pinpoint exactly how).
My biggest problem with this book is that the reader is just thrown into this new fantasy world, and we don’t get very much initial information. There is a world map at the beginning of the story, but there is nothing charting the different types of witches an their powers. As I read on, I felt like the author kept being like, “Oh and there’s also this type of witch that can do this…. and conveniently this type of witch too…. oh ya, and this witch can do this…”. This may have been done to elicit more surprise from readers, but I just found that it made it hard to put myself in the character’s shoes when I don’t know what different potential threats there are until it’s too late.
Overall it had a really rocky start but pulled through in the end as being decent. It ended with a great cliffhanger but since most of the book felt distant, I don’t think I’ll continue on with this series when the next book comes out in January.
P.S. two other people in my book club who have recently finished the book loved it and are going to continue on with the series.