Thursday, July 8, 2021

Witchshadow by Susan Dennard

Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release: June 22, 2021
Series: The Witchlands
Pages: 464
Review: 5 Stars


Susan Dennard's New York Times bestselling, young adult epic fantasy Witchlands series continues with Witchshadow, the story of the Threadwitch Iseult.

War has come to the Witchlands . . . and nothing will be the same again.

Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. And though Iseult has plans to save her friend, they will require her to summon magic more dangerous than anything she has ever faced before.

Meanwhile, the Bloodwitch Aeduan is beset by forces he cannot understand. And Vivia—rightful queen of Nubrevna—finds herself without a crown or home.

As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.

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First Impressions

My preorder came a couple days early, and I was ridiculously excited to dive in to Witchshadow! Getting a preorder a little early sorta feels like a small reward for all the patience required to wait for a great book. My brain has had a bit of trouble remembering the details of the previous books and who all the characters are (aside from Iseult, Safi, Merik, and Aeduan) but I mostly just rolled with it anytime I was confused and it worked out fine. This world is so big and there are so many characters that it's hard to hold onto it all at once. I definitely envy the readers who will be able to binge read the whole thing once the whole series is out.


Each book has had a main character it focuses on (Truthwitch - Safi, Windwitch - Merik, Bloodwitch - Aeduan). Witchshadow focuses on Iseult. She has to go through a lot of growth and change in order to become who she needs to be to take on the world and the problems they are facing. That's not to say she's the only character we follow. We also get Safi, Vivia, Stix, and Aeuduan's POVs. There are also flashback scenes with Safi and Iseult.

World Building

Dennard is very clearly building something epic. I don't fully know what it will be, but I can't wait to find out. There are some pieces that readers can put together but the main characters can't, because we sometimes get access to more info than the characters have. This is both fun and frustrating. On the one hand, I want to know as much as possible, but I also feel like I am yelling at characters not to trust certain people or do certain things, but they don't listen because they don't know what I know.

The physical world of this series is large, featuring a continent with multiple countries and a fallen empire. Oftentimes the characters feel like they are far apart, but when I'd glance back at the map (which I am very grateful to have in the book) I'd realize they were geographically around the corner from each other. It would leave me waiting and hoping that the characters would move just a *little* bit closer. The geography of the world is more than just a setting. Magic is intertwined with the land such that some actions will actually destroy the land around it. I imagine that the Origin Wells aren't just placed at random, but connected to the surrounding world and how magic interacts with it.

Final Thoughts

One thing I really hope the next books (I think there are two more) will bring is all the characters together. Each book has brought together and separated different characters, but I want it all. All the Paladins, all the Exalted Ones, all the Well Chosen, and in general anyone we care about. Some romances have had some solid time to build, but others have been majorly put on hold. I feel like there are so many things that can and will happen as soon as everyone has been brought together and I am practically shaking waiting.

I can't express enough how hyped I am to keep reading this epic fantasy series! I *need* to know what happens next and I can't believe I'll have to wait at least a year to get my hands on the next book!

Author Bio:

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series, and she also hosts the popular newsletter for writers, the Misfits & Daydreamers. When not writing, she is slaying darkspawn (on her PS4) or earning bruises at the dojo.

She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats. Learn more about her on her twitter, instagram, or newsletter.

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