Spotlight: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

39863277Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #4) by Susan Dennard

Tor Teen | February 12, 2019

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Love. Death. War. Betrayal. Magic. Destiny.

New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard returns to the epic Witchlands series with the story we’ve all been waiting for.

The Bloodwitch Aeduan and the Threadwitch Iseult race for safety as the Raider King’s attempts to subdue the Witchlands gain momentum. Now, his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. Despite differing goals, Aeduan and Iseult have grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. But trust is a tenuous bond…

War has come once more to the Witchlands. Perhaps if the Truthwitch Safi and Iseult were united, their powers could bring peace. Yet Lady Fate’s knife comes for us all, and the Bloodwitch Aeduan can no longer hide from his past.

Today marks the release of the fourth book in my favourite fantasy series by Susan Dennard! I’ve been highly anticipating BLOODWITCH for over two years, so to say I’m excited is an understatement. Here’s a special spotlight post to help spread the word about the incredible THE WITCHLANDS series. If you like complex world-building, strong characters, and political intrigue this is the series for you. If you’re new to the books, I’ve linked reviews of the first three below. Please consider picking up these fantastic books or requesting them from your local library – you will not be disappointed!

Book One: TRUTHWITCH

Book Two: WINDWITCH

Book Three: SIGHTWITCH

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Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

27827203Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)

Elly Blake

4/5 stars

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Review:

Maybe a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake is such an original take on elemental magic – in this case fire and ice. Although I can’t specifically remember books that only had the elemental powers of fire and ice (compared to books with water, earth, fire and air), I’ve read books with this theme of fire vs. ice, summer vs. winter and I think it’s really easy for it to feel overdone. Blake turns it into something fresh and exciting.

I recommend this for readers wanting a small-scale fantasy world with tons of action. The world-building gets a pass from me but I would have liked more. I personally love fantasy books with a huge world, filled with all kinds of different stories. This is great for readers who get overwhelmed by those big fantasy worlds and just want a little magic, some action and fast paced writing.

The protagonist Ruby is very likeable and I loved being in her head. Although she isn’t quite on my list of favourite YA heroines, I can see her getting there after book two. I liked the romance between Ruby and Arcus, another main character. I was pretty much neutral about them in part one and ended up really shipping them at the end of part two.

This book is divided into two parts and I loved part two so much more than part one! There was so much more action, big fight scenes, and I loved the exchange between Ruby and King Rasmus, the Frost King – it was really intriguing! I just love when authors delve into these darker moments with their characters. Part one was good and it drew me in, but some of the chapters felt like “first book syndrome”. In the beginning the protagonist would travel around in all sorts of different directions and it ended up feeling like an excuse to add world-building or to share important information with the reader. I also felt like the cast of main characters was very small – there was a greater focus on Ruby and Arcus. Secondary characters felt more like minor ones because we didn’t really get to know them, other than maybe a talent of theirs or a hobby.

I definitely recommend FROSTBLOOD and plan to read the sequel! I hope the author expands on the main cast and the world-building in book two. An original take on elemental magic with fast paced writing and a strong, likeable protagonist.

Book Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

29939390Windwitch (sequel to Truthwitch)

Susan Dennard

5/5 stars

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Publisher: Tor Teen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

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.

Review:

WINDWITCH by Susan Dennard was incredible from start to finish. Filled with action, heartache and some of the greatest moments of character development I’ve ever read, this book is sure to become a favourite of 2017. The world-building is so rich, it practically leaps off the page. Enemies become allies and allies become enemies in this stunning sequel to TRUTHWITCH.

I want to take a moment to talk about the writing. It was so beautiful that I’d take the time to analyze every paragraph, every sentence, and every word. I feel like, in a way, Dennard’s writing can be compared to the gorgeous, imagery-like writing of Laini Taylor. I’ve never really considered this before, but the world-building and character development is so complex, so rich, it’s reached that level. This is the best Dennard book to date.

Like in TRUTHWITCH, this novel is told in 3rd person, multiple POV’s. We have characters already familiar to us: Merik, Safi, Iseult, and Aeduan. However, Dennard adds a 5th voice: Vivia Nihar, Merik’s older sister. Having this many voices in one book can go really wrong, but Dennard is flawless. In fact, WINDWITCH is one of the best examples of a book told in multiple POV’s. The transitions were so smooth, that when character A’s POV ended, even though I wanted to know more about character A, I was satisfied enough to continue on with character B. There have been times when I’m reading a book with only two different POV’s and the voices weren’t different enough. I understood that these two characters had different personalities, traits and ambitions, but the voices sounded too similar; as if I were reading a book with 1.5 POV’s rather than 2. I’m really astounded at how flawlessly Dennard pulls this off.

Moreover, Dennard usually followed a specific pattern that helped make these transitions smooth. The first couple chapters had only 1 POV per chapter but eventually a POV would change mid-chapter. These POV “pairings”, as I’m calling it, were usually Merik and Vivia, Iseult and Aeduan, or Merik and Safi. Merik and Vivia, and Iseult and Aeduan were usually in the same location or general vicinity, so it made sense to have pairings like these. Like I said, this is one of the best books with multiple POV’s and if you’re writing a book like this or planning to, I’d recommend you study Dennard’s style. I think it’d be really helpful for writers to see why this style worked for Dennard and whether or not it could work for you.

The character development is so amazing, along with the sort of relationships we see between different characters. This book is Merik’s arc and the focus is mostly on him. He has so much rage and grief and regrets, that it’s funnelled into a new identity: the Fury. There’s also a focus on Vivia, and Merik & Vivia’s relationship as siblings/rivals. This relationship was the most prominent and I loved every moment of it!

Iseult/Aeduan fans will be very happy with this book. These two create a temporary alliance and start traveling together in the Contested Lands. Their chapters ended up being my favourite, mainly because Aeduan is my all-time favourite character! There was the makings of a slow burn romance and I mean slowww, but this book starts them off as could-be-friends and allies, which is something I’m really happy about.

Some readers might be a bit disappointed because, in a way, that strong friendship between Safi and Iseult, the one that drew readers to TRUTHWITCH isn’t as prominent. Safi and Iseult are definitely fighting to reach each other in WINDWITCH but it ends up more about how these two fight for survival without the other. These two characters are so strong together, but how do they fare without the other to lean on? Some very tough and heartbreaking decisions are made in this book. The reader ends up seeing a different side of the relationship we first encountered in TRUTHWITCH and I really liked that. WINDWITCH takes the characters we loved from the first book and has them forging new, exciting and sometimes difficult paths.

I was slightly confused at the beginning because a character death (that happened in TRUTHWITCH) is mentioned and I honestly couldn’t remember it happening. This was more on me than the book. I did read book #1 about 1.5 years ago.

The last couple of chapters, the POV’s would change three or four times in one chapter and my heart was actually racing. All I could think about was getting to the end, it was so good! I’m very excited for book #3 BLOODWITCH – which happens to be Aeduan’s arc 🙂 – and now plan to re-read TRUTHWITCH. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Also, because of something that happened near the end of the book I feel like I know what book #4 will be called. Okay, I’m not totally sure on the exact title but I kind of felt a foreshadowing of events to come in book #4. Dennard mentioned in a chat I think, one of the Witchlands novels was supposed to be called THREADWITCH (Iseult’s arc) but B&N wouldn’t accept that title so she had to change her plans. This ended up worrying me because I started thinking “Oh no! Everyone gets a book named after them except Iseult?!”. However, I am not worried anymore 🙂