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bloodwitch (the witchlands #3) by susan dennard; a review

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title: Bloodwitch
series: The Witchlands
author: Susan Dennard
genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
publisher: Tor
release date:
 Feb 21st, 2018 (UK)
Goodreads Summary:

❝Loyalties will be tested as never before.

The Raider King’s plans to claim the Witchlands are under way. Now, his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. After finding the slain, Aeduan and Iseult race for safety. And despite differing goals, they’ve grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. Yet the Bloodwitch keeps a secret that could change everything . . .

When Merik sacrifices himself to save his friends, he is captured by the Fury. However, Merik isn’t one to give up easily, and he’ll do whatever it takes to save those he loves. And in Marstok, Safi the Truthwitch agrees to help the empress uncover a rebellion. But those implicated are killed and Safi becomes desperate for freedom.

War has come once more to the Witchlands. Perhaps if Safi and Iseult were united, their powers could bring peace. But chaos is not easily tamed.❞

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bloodwitch is the third installment in susan dennard’s fantasy series, ‘the witchlands‘. it’s also been quite the anticipated release for many people since it comes out two years after its predecessor. i, myself, quietly waited for the release, thinking i could survive the wait, no problem, but i was surprised how much i actually wanted to devour this book because i went out and started reading it as soon as it hit (both physical and electronic) shelves. my anticipation completely blindsided me, and now that i’m aware of it, the wait for the next book will be unbearable.

starting off, i wasn’t actually going to write this review initially, however, this morning, as i was nearing the end of the book, thoughts rushed into my head and i knew i needed to put them down in a post. everything about this book surprised me, from my eagerness to read it to the writing and the characters, and how much i’d grown attached to them without even knowing.

let me confess, i was not a big fan of the writing style in the first two books – it seemed a bit clunky and unpolished, especially for a fantasy series of this caliber. the writing in bloodwitch, however, was completely different – not in a way that dennard pulls a 180 on her style; more that she polished off her skills and took a slightly different, better, approach to how she told this story. it truly shows growth not only for her as an author, but also the narrative as a complex fantasy setting.

the world, itself, has fascinated me since the first book, and it continues to enrapture with its intricacy. throughout the entire time reading, i kept thinking how well dennard knows her setting and just how much she’s put into creating it – she put a whole lot of thought into the world, and it shows. as a writer myself i can tell you, there’s nothing better than a well-crafted setting that really speaks volumes of the blood, sweat and tears that went into structuring it from the ground up. i’m in awe of dennard for the masterpiece, especially since she’s created not just one or two countries with some sort of relation between each other; she’s hand-crafted an entire continent. not only that, but she’s found how to tie the countries on this continent all together in an organic way. personally, i’d love to take a look at her notes, because i feel like there’s so much i could learn from her about plotting and world-building.

i would be lying if i said i read this book for anyone else than iseult and aeduan, but i would also be lying if i said i didn’t care about anyone else in this world. as with everything else concerning bloodwitch, my affection for these characters also managed to surprise me. initially, all that mattered to me was iseult and aeduan (and their epic slow burn, i’m devastated), but by the end of the book i was swollen with love for safi, owl, merik, vivia, vaness, etc. yet another thing that dennard does really well – create realistic, multidimensional characters. i don’t want to sound like a broken record but just look at aeduan! his character arc up until now has been so fascinating, but in this book he just knocked it all out of the park. personally, his development is one of my favourite not just in this series, but in the literature genre as a whole. of course, i thoroughly enjoyed everyone else’s arcs and growth, but aeduan is the brightest highlight.

there’s so much more i could say about this book, the way its plot is so intricate and woven together in such a complicated web that i would personally get whiplash if i had to map it all out in my head. kudos to susan for being such a good writer! or how the characters’ relationships with one another are beautifully written; you can really feel every spark of tension, every longing thought, every beat of love, every breath of hate… god, i could go on and on about it all, we’d be here for weeks.

overall, bloodwitch is absolutely worth the two year wait. i fell back into the world so easily, and i fell in love with it even more. despite all the different plot points happening and everything literally going up in flames, the book never gets too confusing; it’s always easy to follow, because it just grips you so tightly. and trust me, there’s so much happening. i mean, game of thrones who? now let’s just hope the next book doesn’t take two years to release, because i’m sure i won’t survive the wait this time.

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