Published by Tor on February 12, 2019
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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Bloodwitch is the third book in the stunning Witchlands series by Susan Dennard, perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.
Loyalties will be tested as never before.
The Raider King's plans to claim the Witchlands are under way. Now, his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. After finding the slain, Aeduan and Iseult race for safety. And despite differing goals, they've grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. Yet the Bloodwitch keeps a secret that could change everything . . .
When Merik sacrifices himself to save his friends, he is captured by the Fury. However, Merik isn't one to give up easily, and he'll do whatever it takes to save those he loves. And in Marstok, Safi the Truthwitch agrees to help the empress uncover a rebellion. But those implicated are killed and Safi becomes desperate for freedom.
War has come once more to the Witchlands. Perhaps if Safi and Iseult were united, their powers could bring peace. But chaos is not easily tamed.
Spoiler alert: This review may contain spoilers for Truthwitch and Windwitch.
If I was to use one word to sum up all of my thoughts about Bloodwitch, it would be ‘confused’. I was so absolutely confused from beginning to end that I honestly can’t even comprehend reading another book in this series. Granted, I didn’t read Sightwitch, so it has been two years since I was last in this world, but I would’ve hoped for a little bit more guidance from Susan Dennard when it came to getting us back into the world. Instead, the book pretty much picks up where the series had left off and I had to do all of the hard work in trying to remember what happened in the previous books, the relationships between all of the tribes and who some of these characters even were. The biggest problem was that I had read some recaps of the previous books before commencing Bloodwitch, but could not recall most of the events that were recapped actually happening.
I had previously described Truthwitch and Windwitch as ‘escape and survival stories’ and that is the case again for Bloodwitch. Which was a little bit frustrating because, similar to the other books, there really wasn’t much that happened for the first 300 pages of this book besides pretty much all of the characters escaping from one thing or another. I felt like it was such a missed opportunity to include more political intrigue, given how the story pretty much revolves around war. We find out bits and pieces about the different tribes and who their enemies and allies are but these bits of information were so few and far in-between that it was difficult to get a good sense of what was going on. As someone who read Windwitch a whole two years ago, and needed a lot more help to get my bearings, the information I was given actually made things more confusing and I almost gave up on the book because I felt so frustrated from not understanding what was happening. I just needed more handholding and less descriptions of trees and rocks and nature. The pacing definitely left a lot to be desired. The first 300 pages was so extremely slow and things only started to pick up in the last quarter of the book. And while I definitely did enjoy those last 100 pages a lot more, I found that it was so fast-paced that it made things really confusing.
The magic system still confuses me. I remember feeling really overwhelmed by the magic system in Truthwitch because it wasn’t well-explained and there were also so many types of witches that it was difficult to keep track of what they all did. And I still don’t feel like I have a good sense of how the powers work. In fact, what happened in this book made me even more confused and I felt like the magic was kind of boundless and without any rules. The characters seemed to do things with their magic just because they could? In addition to that, the concept of the cahr awen still annoys me to no end. The whole Chosen Pair idea leaves me pretty confounded especially because they also seem to have limitless powers. Not to mention the portals and teleportation in this story… I was pretty confused by the whole idea of that and I felt that it was executed in a way that didn’t help the reader make sense of what was happening. And I’m not even going to address the massive plot hole.
Relatedly, I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of characters and perspectives that we followed in Bloodwitch. They were all in different parts of the world and we just kind of had to believe that they would all come together in some way later that made sense. It was difficult to follow what each individual character’s agenda was and what sort of role they were playing, which left me (you guessed it) confused. The plot was difficult for me to follow and I kind of only really continued reading the book for my Aeduan and Iseult ship… which was also disappointing in itself. I needed more of them together!
While Bloodwitch was probably a better book than Truthwitch and Windwitch, my reading experience was definitely impacted by how little I remembered of the world and the events that have happened so far. It took me the majority of the book to get back into the world because there was so little help from the author in this regard. The plot was confusing, the magic system was confusing, the multiple perspectives were overwhelming, and the pacing was underwhelming.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book.
Bloodwitch is now available at all Australian retailers for $16.99 RRP.
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