YA Weekend Audio: Windwitch by Susan Dennard
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Book 2 of The Witchlands
Publisher: Listening Library (January 10, 2017)
Length: 14 hrs and 46 mins
To be fair, Windwitch wasn’t bad at all, but I was in the minority in that Truthwitch didn’t blow me away and I went into this sequel hoping it would help me decide whether or not to continue the series. There’s a lot of potential here, and wouldn’t it be a shame if I gave up on something great just because I was on the fence about the first book? After all, sometimes a series just needs a little extra time to develop.
I was also left curious about the fates of the characters after the events of the previous novel. “Threadsisters” Safi and Iseult are still separated, each struggling with their own predicament. The windwitch admiral Prince Merik is also dead, or so the world is led to believe after his ship was devoured by a fiery explosion. The truth is much complicated though. Caught between life and death, the prince has returned broken, scarred, and bitter, filled with anger towards his sister whom he believes betrayed him. After making his way to the capital, he begins rallying the tired and starving refugees there under the guise of the Fury, a legendary figure who fights for freedom of the oppressed.
The bloodwitch Aeduan has a greater role now too, realizing the sizeable bounty he would collect if he could find the threadwitch Iseult and bring her to those hunting her. In a twist of fate though, Iseult somehow manages to get Aeduan on her side, convincing him to help her track down her best friend Safi. While the bloodwitch and threadwitch end up forging a precarious alliance, truthwitch Safi finds herself stranded in the pirate-infested wilderness after her shipwreck, with none other than the Empress of Marstok in tow. Alone and with no defenses, if the outlaws or mercenaries don’t get to them first, then the elements will—and that’s only if the two young women don’t succumb to their thirst and hunger.
Like I was saying, I didn’t dislike Windwitch, but it was also far from being the huge improvement over Truthwitch that I’d hoped for. In fact, I might even have liked it a bit less. First off, so much for having a strong female friendship at its core. This aspect, which was supposed to be a major selling point for the first book, ended up being severely lacking. The author continues to tell instead of show Safi and Iseult’s closeness, and maybe it’s time to just accept she’s more interested in developing their respective romances at this point. The title itself is also telling because it points to Merik as the character getting most of the attention, but unfortunately I felt he was one of the blander, more exasperating characters from the first book and this sequel didn’t do much to change that. Iseult remained my favorite, and I wish there had been more focus on her and Aeduan.
In terms of the story though, this book is definitely more complex than its predecessor, and I enjoyed the multiple plot threads. Some might argue that the political, magical, and action elements presented here are just the same tired old narrative tropes, but Dennard deserves credit for knowing what readers want and how to spice things up. My one complaint was how long it took for this book to build. Admittedly the first half was pretty sluggish, though once everything fell into place, things took off from there. There’s a moment where it all comes together and the story kicks into high gear; you can’t miss it.
Still, my future with this series is up in the air right now. Not too long ago, I would have been a lot more open to the idea of continuing with book three, especially since I really liked how this book ended. But given the insane number of series I’m currently following, this year I’m resolving to be pickier when it comes to deciding which ones to keep reading. Windwitch was a decent sequel, but I had pinned my hopes on it being more exceptional. The “click” I’d wished for just didn’t happen, so I’ll probably set The Witchlands aside, at least for now.
Audiobook Comments: I was glad I got to check out Windwitch, if nothing else because I was able to experience the audiobook edition. Cassandra Campbell did an excellent job as narrator, adding her own flair to the characters with interesting accents and inflections. Somehow the world of The Witchlands felt bigger for it. Reading the first book in hardback format, it hadn’t occurred to me what the characters might have sounded like, and pondering their different origins gave context to the vastness and diversity of the setting. Despite my mixed feelings for the story, I have no complaints about Campbell’s wonderful reading.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Truthwitch (Book 1)