Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

29939390After 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.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t expecting much from this book & only picked it up because I hate not finishing series and the author seems to be really nice. Truthwitch was a big disappointment last year: I found it too boring, simple and predictable, despite some truly awesome ideas/concepts. Windwitch is completely different book, though, and succeeds in almost all areas in which Truthwitch failed.

The first – and most important, in my opinion – is the pacing. Truthwitch was so boring to me because it was basically only action, battle happening after battle with some banter mixed in and almost no mystery or real tension to keep things interesting. Windwitch still has lots of action, sure, but there is more to it as well, especially in Merik and Vivia’s storylines. There is more character development, more worldbuilding, more mysteries (which, as if you’ve probably noticed, are my kryptonite), just… more. It feels like a complete, polished story, and not a unrevised draft of one (which, sadly, is how Truthwitch felt for me).

I’ll be honest again and say I still don’t care about most of these characters, but all of them but Safi – sorry, she’s still too annoying/uninteresting to me – grew on me in this book. Merik and Vivia’s were the best & most developed, but I also liked Iseult and Aeduan quite a bit. I’m not sure if this series is going to be a trilogy, but Windwitch definitely doesn’t suffer from the second book syndrome – if anything, it feels like the story begins for real here.

The romance, though… Didn’t convince me (again). Everything just feels so forced between Aeduan and Iseult (can’t talk about Safi and Merik in this book). The only thing in my mind while I was reading their chapters was none of this would be happening if they weren’t a cis straight guy and a cis straight girl, because, you know, the “he was a boy, she was a girl,” thing? Which isn’t entirely fair because their romance isn’t instalove, but it just doesn’t feel natural either.

Windwitch also had a great improvement when it comes to representation. [SPOILERS AHEAD! For those who don’t want to know who the queer characters are, it’s better to stop here]. Vivia, who was only a antagonist in Truthwitch, is queer (lesbian, probably?) and one of the most interesting characters in this book, as I said above. I was already pretty happy about her, but then, a trans character! Cam, we eventually find out, is a trans boy who actually lives as a boy and isn’t unhappy/assaulted/dead by the end of the book. I think this is my first time reading a canon trans character (esp a trans boy) in a fantasy book from a mainstream publisher/author. I only wish we had found out sooner about his identity, but I honestly can’t wait to see more of him in the next book.

In conclusion, Windwitch was a really good book & now I’m actually excited for the next one in this series. 4.0 stars.

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