Monday, December 12, 2016

Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard


Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Book Two of The Witchlands series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from 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.

What I Liked:

One-line summary of my review: Windwitch is a good, non-sequel-slump novel, but not as strong as its predecessor Truthwitch, and seriously lacking in the romance department. 

This sequel novel picks up some time after the insane ending of Truthwitch (how much time passes is not specified). Merik is burned and badly injured beyond recognition, and haunts Nubrevna as The Fury, fighting for the weak and trying to help the city. Safi and Vaness barely escape the explosion of the ship they were on, and are captured by legendary Hell-Bards. Aeduan seeks his silver talers, but he is also tasked with finding the Threadwitch, Iseult. And Iseult... Iseult is desperate to find Safi, so much so that when she comes across a badly injured Aeduan, she strikes a deal with him: help her track Safi, and she'll return his silver talers to him (which she found and hide). All four of the protagonists are so close yet so far away from each other. Meanwhile, a fifth protagonist emerges, and proves to be an extremely important player in the political game. All the while the Puppeteer's power is growing, and something strange is happening to dead men, and a war that will sweep across the Witchlands is about to unfold.

 This book is told in third-person, limited to five protagonists. It's a lot, but so many narrators actually really works for this series. We know four of them - Merik, Safi, Aeduan, and Iseult. The fifth is Vivia, Merik's sister. Of the five, I liked Aeduan and Iseult's narratives the best, and probably Safi's the least. Her part of the story was the most boring. But I'll get to that.

This book is titled Windwitch and so you expect it to be mostly about Merik - and you'd mostly be correct. It starts with him and ends with him. He is badly burned and his facial features are utterly disfigured. He has adopted the title of The Fury, which is actually a figure in legend. Merik is somewhat aimless, though he doesn't realize it. When he learns that the ship that Safi was on exploded, he loses it (he thinks she's dead). Merik's narrative is the most heartbreaking, and the most cruel. My heart broke every time he came across someone that should know him, but didn't recognize him. However this series turns out, I hope Merik gets a satisfying ending. 

Safi's part of the story is the most boring, in my opinion, though I was interested in it. She and Vaness are captured by Hell-Bards after they survive the ship's explosions. From there, the Hell-Bards take them to Saldonica, the Pirate Lands. Like I said, her part of the story is the most boring, because she and Vaness are just prisoners the entire time. 

Iseult's narrative is very interesting, especially towards the end. She is running for her life initially, and then she stumbles upon Aeduan. She doesn't know that Aeduan is charged with finding her and bringing her to Corlant, alive. But she needs him to track Safi, and he agrees. Iseult and Aeduan don't necessarily get along at first, but they work well together and save each other many times.

Finally we get a really good look inside Aeduan's head! Besides Merik, he's probably my favorite. He has quite the past, and an intriguing lineage. I'm curious to see how that will come into play in future novels. Aeduan is an interesting guy.

Vivia is the final protagonist; her narrative is interesting but not the most interesting of the story. I love that we get to know her better, because I hate her a looooot less. In fact, I really understand her and started cheering for her as the book went on. She isn't heartless and cruel, nor is she malicious towards Merik.

I like that Dennard takes each of the different parts of the story to different places. Vivia and Merik are in Nubrevna (unbeknownst to each other - well, Merik knows that Vivia is there), Safi is traipsed all over the place, and ends up in Saldonica, Iseult and Aeduan are tracking Safi and travel everywhere. There is a lot of ground covered, in this book.

On that note, hats off to Dennard for the intricate and fascinating fantasy world that she has created. Things get a lot bigger and crazier in this book. Dennard is taking the story in the direction of chaos, ruin, and war, and she's weaving all of the magic, politics, and legend together extremely well.

On the romance front, this book doesn't seem to have any. Iseult and Aeduan get to know each other more and definitely trust each other more than in the previous novel. Unfortunately, on the Merik/Safi front, there is nothing. There is a tiny inkling of a Vivia romance with someone. 

The ending isn't wrapped up (obviously; there are two, maybe three more novels to go), but it ends on a somewhat positive note. There were a lot of bombshells dropped in the last one hundred pages or so, and the stakes are definitely a lot higher than they were in the beginning of the book. But the end is not bad. It's not really a cliffhanger. I'll be looking out for book three, in 2018!

What I Did Not Like:

Unfortunately there were some things that I didn't quite like, in this book. The first one hundred pages or so really dragged, for me. Part of it could have been me dreading certain things I anticipated (and I was right). Part of it could have been that the first hundred pages just weren't that interesting.

I am so frustrated with the romance. There is none, in this book. That works for Iseult and Aeduan because perhaps that relationship will develop over the next two books (if at all)? But it doesn't work for Merik and Safi because Truthwitch established that they have a powerful connection.

It's frustrating because Merik and Safi do no interact a single time during this entire book. What's more, they both believe that the other is dead. They barely even think of each other (granted, they had other things to worry about, like staying alive). I was so sure that they would be endgame, in terms of romance. Now I'm not. I could see the author taking them into two diverging paths, possibly developing other romances for each of them. Which is frustrating. I'm not saying I'm sensing a love triangle for each character, but I AM saying that I could see them never interacting romantically again and possibly developing feelings for other people (people we may meet in future books, people we already have meet, I don't know). I guess I'm just annoyed because they interacted not one time during this book. Not once! It didn't even have to be romantic! Catching a glimpse of each other as one sails in the opposite direction, or something, that would have been nice.

In Truthwitch, Merik/Safi seemed obvious. But in Windwitch, not so much, especially since both Merik and Safi believe that the other is dead. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried about this? Maybe I should trust Merik and Safi's powerful Threads connection that Iseult witnessed in Truthwitch, or Kullen's note about Merik and Safi's witchery reacting to each other meant something powerful (again, in Truthwitch). I don't know, and not knowing frustrates me. 

There are also no Safi/Iseult interactions, which was frustrating too because the powerful female friendship was a huge selling point, in Truthwitch. Honestly I hope the rest of the series really makes up for the scarcity of interactions there are, among certain characters.

Would I Recommend It:

Tricky tricky. I did like this book (though not as much as I LOVED Truthwitch). I'd definitely recommend this sequel if you read and liked Truthwitch. HOWEVER. I would seriously consider waiting to possibly binge-read this one and the next one, or the entire rest of the series, if I were you. I read Dennard's debut trilogy and I'm sorry to say that I don't 100% trust her to dish out a "fair" ending. With this being a four-, possibly five-book series, a lot can happen that we don't see right now (like love triangles, or ridiculous protagonist deaths).

Rating:

3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. But seriously, it's 3.5 stars. I liked Truthwitch a lot more, despite both books getting the same final rating. Truthwitch was a 4.5, Windwitch a 3.5. This one isn't a new favorite, but it was worth the read and I enjoyed it. I am very much looking forward to reading Bloodwitch and am excited to receive my preorder of Windwitch. Huge thanks to Tor for allowing me to read this book early!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

34 comments:

  1. I really want to try this series - seems like it might be a good time to start soon. I haven't read anything by Dennard yet but I'm determined to pick up one of her books next year!

    Great review.

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    1. I think you would enjoy it! Heads up - I think it's now a five-book series. Nothing official has been said. But we're looking at the series finishing in 2020, at the earliest! o_o

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  2. I'm definitely waiting to see on whether or not to read these books. I thought I would before and I'm more committed to that now. This book would frustrate me a lot! And I don't handle ends like her other series well. Thanks for the thorough review and I'm sorry you didn't like this more.

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    1. Part of me wishes I had waited... especially now that I know that it's no longer a four-book series. *sigh* The longer a series gets, the more "mess" an author makes... and then half the time, they don't know how to put everything back together and they end up fudging the ending and it's just one big mess. *another sigh*

      Hopefully the ships won't sink and the author makes the story a little more lively in book three. And I hope she takes it easier on Merik. Gosh, poor Merik! I was especially frustrated, on his behalf.

      You're welcome and thank YOU!

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  3. Super bummed about the lack of romance and the lack of interactions between Iseult & Safi. Those were like the two things I REALLY REALLY enjoyed in the first book. So the fact that those are not there in this sequel makes me not want to pick it up at all. And of course, all the other things you mentioned. Definitely putting a pause on this series!
    Thanks as always for your well-balanced reviews, Alyssa!

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    1. Right?! This whole series is based on friendship... yet Safi/Iseult have no interactions in this book. And by extension, you could say that Safi/Merik have a friendship (a relationship, but it's also a friendship). Nothing there either. I'm very disappointed.

      I think it's better to wait! I partially wish I had. Of course, I had no idea that the author would go in this direction, so I can't really regret reading this book? But still. I'm sad.

      You're welcome, and thanks, Nick! <3

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  4. I'm dead, I'm dead! Your review just killed me!!!
    I CAN'T wait to read this book. I had no idea what to expect, but not this.

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    1. I hope you love it, Lis! It's a great sequel - not what I was expecting, but still good. I have high hopes for the series.

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  5. Oh man I was looking forward to the romance! But I'm still excited to read this one :D

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    1. Same! I hope you like this one, Eileen! Let's discuss, after you finish it!

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  6. Oh man, 2 or 3 more books??? Ah, I get ansty with long series...unless it's Chloe Neill. I got the audio for this then dismissed it after some reviews but then Nick liked it so I put it back on my phone but then I ran out of space on my phone so I had to delete it again. I still wanna try it though.

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

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    1. Yup, it looks like it's going to be a five-book series (though that's unofficial at this point). I'm not particularly happy about that, but meh. It is what it is. LOL. I think your phone is trying to tell you something. ;) Perhaps wait to binge-read the series! It'll be completed no earlier than 2020, I think.

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  7. Awesome review! The first novel was an okay read for me, and the romance was favorite aspect of mine. However, I'm still planning on reading the next one mainly for Aeduan and Iseult.

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    1. You will get lots of Aeduan and Iseult in this book, fear not! =)

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  8. I haven't read Truthwitch yet, but did hear great things. This sounds like an interesting follow up it seems a little complex, but I am guessing it works well with knowing the first book. Great review!

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    1. Truthwitch was amazing! I liked this one but didn't love it... but I am trusting the author to do better/more in book three. We'll see! Thank you. <3

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  9. I'm glad to see you still enjoyed this sequel even if it wasn't as great as book one! That's so often the way with sequels, isn't it? It would drive me crazy to read an entire second book with no romance though! Great review :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. YES! Exactly! Sequel slump for real! Although, I think the story was good overall, just not as good, and definitely more heartbreaking to read. I wanted to hug Merik so man times in this book. And it frustrated me to no end, the lack of romance and lack of friendships. HMPH! :o

      Thank you, Tracy!

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  10. Great review Alyssa! I love the idea that we see more of Aeduan and Vivia. I really appreciate that Dennard's "antagonists" aren't just cookie-cutter bad guys. The lack of romance really startles me! I thought that there would be more than Truthwitch, because there were so many relationships to establish in the first book. I'm sad to see that isn't the case, but I don't think you have to worry about Merik and Safi. I beleive they'll be endgame. :D I mean...how else are those threads explained? I might binge read the series, but I want to read the sequel so badly. Time will tell!

    Thanks for sharing Alyssa!
    Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!

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    1. Vivia especially! One of the reasons why I'm still going to rate this book so high (despite being really frustrated with many aspects of the book) was because of the development of Vivia... I like her a lot more. She's less of a villain to me now.

      It's deeply disappointing to see such a dearth of any kind of relationship, in this book. But I'm hoping the author turns things around in book three. I want to believe Merik and Safi are endgame (for that same reason, about the threads that Iseult saw) BUT... you haven't read this one! You'll know what I mean, once you read it. Honestly, binge-reading the rest of the series is so smart. Five books? That's a lot!

      You're welcome, and thank YOU! <3

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  11. Sorry the beginning was slow for you, but I'm glad that you enjoyed it overall. This series sounds so good. I still need to read the first. Ah I'm forever behind lol.

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    1. Overall, it was good! I just need to close my eyes and pretend, in terms of the romance. It'll be fine, right? Yes. Fine. Ahhh.

      Binge-read the series, Erin! With five books (unofficially), you have plenty of time. :D

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  12. I really need to start this series! I do like books told with more than one point of view if it is done well, and if it really helps the story, which it sounds like it does. Great review!

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    1. The multiple POVs are a great thing! I think the author does a great job with each character.

      Thank you!

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  13. I read your review the day you posted it, and kept it in my mind to comment on! Ha!

    You've helped me, Alyssa! I only just read Truthwitch and was having a moment wanting it really badly, but I'm definitely chilled! I'll still preorder (maybe mostly because I want the socks?) and read it later, yet I like the idea of waiting till the next one. I know I'm going to be frustrated by the lack of romance.

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    1. Oooo, the socks are definitely worth the preorder. :D I think binge-reading the series is a great idea! I sort of wish I had done the same, especially since it's a five-book series (rather than four-book -- though that's unofficial at this point). The lack of romance (and the direction that one of the ships is going) is SO frustrating! :/

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  14. NOo, what, no romance (or very little of)? :( I am sad. Though I'm happy to hear the rest of the book was good and we get inside of Aeduan head more! Though I'm extra sad that there's no Safi/Iseult interaction! I loved their friendship! Gah, I'm thinking this book might give me mixed feelings, haha.

    Great review, Alyssa!

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    1. None! Even in terms of Aeduan and Iseult... it's more like they are getting to each other, as friends, not in a romantic sense. NOTHING from Safi and Merik. :/ And no scenes with Safi and Iseult. This book was frustrating! But I am sure that it's part of the process. One of the reasons why I usually hate sequels - they feel like fillers, and not usually great ones.

      Mixed feelings indeed! I'm considering rounding down. If you read this one, I hope you like it.

      Thank you, Cyn!

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  15. My favourite part of Truthwitch was the strangely intense vibe between Aeduan and Iseult, so I might like this one...but then again, I found Safi kinda boring and annoying so I'm not sure how I'd feel about this. More romance is not asking too much! Fantasy + romance = ideal combo.

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    1. That vibe is kind of not really there. Iseult and Aeduan get to know each other better, but not in an intense or romantic sense. Safi's story is the most boring of any of the plots in this book. She needs Merik to spice things up! :/

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  16. I see how the lack of key character interactions is frustrating... that's one of my pet peeves! (My shipper heart needs those ships to sail!) I think I will take your advice and wait until this series is finished to binge read the books. I hope you enjoy the next one more! And I'm glad you mostly liked this one :)

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    1. So much so! I am so scared that one of my ships is going to sink... and I hate the "replacement". Ugh. Binge-reading the books is definitely a good plan, especially since I think the series is going to be five books (and not four). So much time to wait...

      Thank you, Emily! =)

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  17. No romance at all? :( Noooo. SO DEPRESSING. Now feeling better about the fact that I forgot to pre-order this book, lol. I haven't read book one yet, but one day. Thinking that I should wait for the other books first, haha :) Anyway. Gorgeous review Alyssa. <3 I'm glad you liked this book; despite the no romance :D Yay. <3

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    1. It was sad! I know they have priorities other than romance, but I was a little miffed. I sort of wish I had waited for the series to publish in its entirety first? Still, it's not going too badly so far (minus the lack of romance, compared to book one).

      Thank you, Carina!

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