This review contains spoilers.
The Windwitch Prince Merik is presumed dead after a lethal explosion. He’s left scarred but alive and determined to expose his sister’s treachery. Yet on reaching the royal capital, he’s shocked to find refugees fleeing conflict. Merik haunts the streets, fighting for the weak. This sparks rumours of the Fury, a disfigured demigod who dispenses justice.
Iseult is cornered by the Bloodwitch Aeduan while searching for her friend Safi, so Iseult proposes a deal. She’ll return what was stolen from him, if he locates the Truthwitch. Yet unknown to Iseult, there’s a bounty on her head and Aeduan intends to claim it.
And after surviving a shipwreck, Safi and the Marstoki Empress find themselves among pirates. A misstep could mean death – and the bandits plan to unleash war upon the Witchlands.
Windwitch is the second novel in the Witchland series by the talented Susan Dennard.
Windwitch picks up straight after the events in Truthwitch, and revolves around the Windwitch Prince Merik, who has survived an assassination attempt. But all is not as it seems, and Merik has been left scarred.
While the novel is largely focused on Merik, there are still threads that feature the returning characters Safi the Truthwitch, Iseult the Threadwitch and Aeduan the Bloodwitch, along with other characters who had small appearances in the first novel. Importantly, Dennard brings diversity to her series, from her characters’ personalities to their sexual and gender preferences, and I think it’s a breath of fresh air.
At the start of the book, we join Merik who is on a quest for the truth along with his sailor, Cam (who is transgender, the first in this novel – and I also really liked the portrayal). Merik believes his sister, Vivia, is responsible for his assassination attempt, and will stop at nothing to prove it; but a darkness is spreading across his homeland and Merik discovers he’s linked to it in a way he never thought possible.
Iseult is trying to find her way back to her Threadsister, Safi, after the events in Truthwitch, and she’s on the run from the Cleaved. After evading them, Iseult finds herself in the company of Aeduan, who was assigned to track her down by the Purist Corlant and bring her back. Putting aside their past (trying to kill each other), Aeduan agrees to assist Iseult in finding Safi, on the basis that Iseult returns Aeduan’s stolen money. But their journey takes an unexpected twist.
Safi is still travelling with Vaness, the Empress of Marstok, after making a deal with her in the final events of Truthwitch. Unfortunately, it is not smooth sailing (literally) for Safi and Vaness, and they are forced to flee their ship after an assassination attempt on Vaness’ life. Captured by Hell-Bards to be taken back to the Emperor Henrick, Safi and Vaness soon head into enemy territory.
Suffice to say, this book has a lot of twists and turns, but what I really loved most was the character growth. I felt that the characters matured over the course of the book: realising their own naivety, discovering that the world wasn’t what it seemed; and changing their perceptions based on these learnings (especially Safi and Merik). I thought Safi’s and Merik’s character growth was the biggest, and I loved seeing Safi grow into herself and become stronger mentally (and kicking butt whilst she was at it). And as an aside, I’m really looking forward to seeing the friendship grow between Vaness and Safi in the next novel.
Overall though, I thought Merik’s changes were the strongest; he had sought justice against his sister, Vivia, all the while assuming that he was needed by his people -- and that Vivia could never be a true leader. However, after Vivia’s innocence is proven, Merik realises she is the person Nubrevna needs as a sovereign, not him – he should remain a ‘dead’, in order help his country.
Despite my earlier dislike of Vivia in Truthwitch, I really enjoyed reading her chapters in Windwitch. Dennard explores her character more in this book, and you get to understand Vivia’s motivations as a result: she is fighting an uphill battle in her desire to be respected by the council, while warring internally with herself, and trying to hide her affection for her first mate, Stix.
Dennard also kept me on the edge of my seat - will Aeduan and Iseult just bloody kiss already? (Although, Aeduan’s character doesn’t seem the type for that kind of interaction, but I can still hope, right?)
The novel had a steady pace that kept me turning page after page in anticipation. The prose is action packed, the fight scenes are exceptionally well written, and the magic just brings it all alive. There are also hints of romance here and there throughout, and it just hooked me in further!
Dennard’s Witchland series reminds me of why I fell in love with fantasy novels. I cannot wait for the third book Bloodwitch to hit the shelves in 2018 .