Susan Dennard is well travelled. Having visited six out of the seven continents as a marine biologist, it is perhaps this sophistication that lends her world-building such fine polish. From the Midenzi settlement to the waters of the Jadansi Sea, Truthwitch is coloured with effortless portrayals of the locales of a continent at war and on the edge of an even bigger conflict.
At the heart of it are two young witches: Safiya, a Truthwitch who can tell truth from lies, and Iseult, a Threadwitch who can see the threads that bind those around her. It’s clear that this is a real passion project for Dennard, whose characters and narrative are woven intricately in continual action.
However, there are parts where some of the themes and sentences get a bit repetitive across two or three paragraphs, and where Dennard’s lexicon breaks up the flow of the narrative. But it’s easy to be hooked in despite these shortcomings, as Safiya and Iseult find themselves in trouble often.
It’s all because their magic is sought after by the various armies, witches and royals who will stop at nothing to capture them and use their unique abilities. But that’s just it: no matter how much their power is reinforced, it never really manages to convince.
Even Dennard at times seem sceptical of her two main characters, at times down-playing their skills and other instances just flat-out acknowledging that their magic hasn’t worked. Frankly, it’s illogical and disappointing.
If your novel is named Truthwitch then you assume that the only Truthwitch around is omnipotent, and yet she is lied to time and time again without seemingly any immediate repercussion. It makes you wonder what the point is.