Bloodwitch, Susan Dennard

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and the thoughts expressed are my own.

I haven’t read the first two books in the series, though they’ve been on my To Read List for years now, when the opportunity to read this came up, I had to jump at it. There are a variety of points of view we follow; Safi the Truthwitch, Vivia the Queen-in-Waiting of the Nubrevan throne, Merik a Windwitch, Iseult a Threadwitch and Aeduan the Bloodwitch. Each character is in dire situations that captivate the reader from the first page.

The magic system of these books was intriguing, from witches that can use magic to control the elements to people that wield unique magic like sensing the truth, controlling blood or feeling the Threads of people. The Threadwitch’s powers were slightly confusing since I hadn’t read the previous books, but I was still intrigued to figure out how it all worked. Some of these witches are incredibly rare like the Truthwitch and Bloodwitch, each the only person of their magic.

To save her people, Safi agreed to serve the Empress of Marstok, and now she must test each of the Empress’ people to find the rebels who plot to assassinate the Empress. Safi misses her Threadsister Iseult and is horrified by the punishments the Empress doles out on the liars of her court. Determined to be free, Safi puts her mind to buy her freedom without endangering her people. Safi was an interesting character, with her determined and strong personality and unique magic. Though a glorified slave, she passes witty quips with the Empress, making me chuckle at her bold humour.

Vivia has clearly gone through her own struggles as she attempts to provide and protect her people. If she wasn’t already stressed enough, she must deal with her father takes credit for her deeds and the awkwardness between her and her best friend, Stix. Moving her people into the underground bunker below the city, Vivia explores the expanses of the ancient hidden city while still trying to make diplomatic deals to provide resources for her people.

After the terrible events of the past instalments, where Merik’s best friend Kullen was Cleaved, becoming destroyed by his own magic and transformed into The Fury, a ferocious monster. The Fury pursues Merik and the rest of his crew across the land, determined to capture him, though he longs to kill Merik, killing him would mean The Fury would kill himself. Stuck in a stalemate, Merik can only run while the Fury snaps at his heels. As Merik’s situation becomes hopeless, he is drawn into a position he never expected. I enjoyed learning about the Cleaved and was desperate to see Merik escape his deadly situation, it was one of the most enthralling and exciting points of view in the book.

After chasing Iseult across the entire Witchlands, sworn enemies, Iseult and Aeduan, are forced to work together after the climactic battle of the previous book. Now charged with caring for a young Earthwitch girl called Owl, they travel in hopes of finding the girl’s parents all the while avoiding those who would gladly capture the Threadwitch. Despite the tenuous situation, Iseult and Aeduan are both developing feelings for one another while they struggle not to let their emotions complicate things. Their story and budding relationship were intriguing, from enemies turned allies to perhaps something more. Each was raised within strict organisations, and the reinforced behaviours make it hard for them to connect with each other, for example, Iseult’s tendency to control her emotions and school her features into a blank mask. Even with everything against them, I still hoped Iseult and Aeduan can be together, and I hope to see this in future books.

I loved this world and magic system paired with the diverse and exciting cast of characters. I’d heard this was a good series, but this book went beyond my expectations. The writing was enjoyable while the characters, though numerous and drastically different, were each developed and shown in-depth throughout the novel. I am excited to read the first two books, and I give this third instalment 5/5.

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