ARC Review: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Bloodwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands, #3
Pages: 464
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 12th 2019

      “Fans of Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.
      High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.
      The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.

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The long-awaited third novel in Susan Dennard’s The Witchlands series is finally here. Bloodwitch picks off where Windwitch left off as Aeduan and Iseult set off toward the Carawen Monastery in hopes of finding a safe place for the young Owl. Iseult’s Threadsister, Safi, finally finds herself in Marstok, helping the Empress Vaness weed out traitors in her court. Merik has set off with Cam and Ryber, hoping to find answers to how and why his Threadbrother Kullen has taken on the form of the Fury. Nubrevna is now in the capable hands of Merik’s older sister Vivia, who struggles to find her footing as Queen-in-Waiting. Meanwhile the Raider King to the North finally makes his move against the Witchlands and with the Twenty-Year Treaty negated, the Empires distrust of one another may lead to their downfall.

Susan Dennard has excelled at giving each of her characters their own arc. Sometimes this is a difficult thing to do with an ensemble of characters, but Dennard is never afraid to separate characters to test them out individually, to push them to their limits and help them discover things about themselves they might not have learned otherwise. Though the focus of this series has always been Safi and Iseult and the strength of their friendship, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know these two on their own. Safi finds herself in a precarious situation, unable to escape Vaness as the Empress wields Safi’s Truthwitchery as a weapon, showing no mercy to those guilty of duplicity. Safi has always had someone to rely on when she makes mistakes, but in Marstok she must learn to rely on herself. Iseult has only ever had Safi to rely one, but through the course of her journey, she discovers an unlikely ally in the Bloodwitch Aeduan. I love how every scene with the two of them feels significant both to their relationship and to them as individuals. Iseult has never felt empowered, she’s always been on the outskirts, but in this novel, she begins to embrace how powerful she is and instead of listening to the voices that tell her she is not enough, she shouts back that she is.

I love how Merik’s perspective continues to be challenged in this third novel. He’s had to take a step back from being his people’s savior. He wants to do what is right, but learns that sometimes that’s not enough if you are blinded by your need to play the hero. We first get to know his sister Vivia in the second novel and in this one it’s hard not to root for her. She’s proven herself to be competent leader, but her father, the King Regent, along with members of the High Council, keep undermining her every chance they get. Still, Vivia manages to stay poised and manages to get things done even when she is doubted by so many. I’d really like to explore how Vivia and Merik’s father has shaped their relationship as siblings. It’s implied that he might be the reason they never found value in the other, why they’ve been resentful of one another. It’s probably the one aspect of these books that I wish Dennard had spent more time on.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the title character Aeduan. When we first met him in Truthwitch, he is the villain of the story, hunting down Safi and Iseult. His arc might be my favorite in the series as he goes from cold-hearted killer to tentative ally. In Bloodwitch we get a little more backstory on why Aeduan has made such an effective killer. His witchery has defined him since he was a young boy. He lost his mother at a young age and only recently was reunited with his father. He grew up seeing himself through other people’s eyes and never had someone see him as anything other than a monster. This changes through his relationship with both Iseult and Owl, but ultimately it is Aeduan who has to learn to see himself differently.

If you’re looking for a fantasy series that keeps you on the edge of your seat with invigorating action scenes, world-building that feels deliberate and intricate, and characters with rewarding character arcs, Susan Dennard’s The Witchlands series is one you should start now. For fans of the series, Bloodwitch feels worth the wait and cements this fantasy series as one of the best out there.

★★★★★
(5/5)

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17 thoughts on “ARC Review: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

  1. I’m having a hard time following everything in your review simply because I haven’t read the first two books. This fact makes me think more about how I’m going to write reviews for all these trilogies Jackie and I are reading, and how I can keep bloggers who aren’t reading with us engaged at Grab the Lapels.

    One thing about fantasy novels are the names. I’ve noticed Lackey tends to change one letter in a really common name, like “Keren.” I tried pronouncing the names in your review aloud and really struggled. Do you think the author tried to hard to make the names different from what readers would expect in an attempt to remind them that the characters are from a fantasy world unlike our own?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I confess that one of the reasons I shy away from Booktube is the fact that I would probably mispronounce every name in a fantasy book. I don’t watch author interviews or anything, so I’m mostly guessing when it comes to pronunciation. I wish they would automatically come with guides, it would make it so much easier. Well, they can’t very well have Bill and Tiffany flying around on dragons, they got to dress up the names a bit. Rill and Tissany sound so much better.

      I struggle with these later reviews when it comes to spoilers. How much can you reveal when readers might not have read them, but may be thinking about doing so?

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      1. OMG, I cackled over Bill and Tiffany on a dragon! That’s a good point about Booktube. Even a name like Alicia could be said wrong, so how confident can they be? I’m always surprised by audio books and pronunciation, too, but the company could confirm with the author.

        I’m not sure what to think about spoilers…. Maybe don’t comment to much on plot and focus on style and setting and characterization? This is something I need to think about, as I’m writing a review of the third book in a trilogy today.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. If I were on Booktube, the upside would be people would learn how to say my name correctly.

          I recently wrote a review for a second book in a series and had to mention the twist at the end of the first book because it sets up the second. It was necessary, but I do wonder if I inadvertent spoiled it for anyone.

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        2. I wrote my review for the third book in a trilogy yesterday. I ended up creating one-sentence summaries for the previous two books in my review and then focused mostly on characters to avoid spoiling too much of the plot. I did admit that the main character lost her virginity, and to whom, but I don’t know that someone losing their virginity in a fantasy novel is considered a spoiler.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad we get more on Merik, because his story got crazy in the last book. I have been eager to learn more about Aeduan, because he has always intrigued me and was sort of shrouded in some mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am SO excited for Bloodwitch! I’ve been dying to get my hands on it and I’m going to have to be patient since I ordered a signed copy from Good Choice Reading it won’t be here right away on release date.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lol, I didn’t read your review at all (I did bookmark it though!) but I still felt the urge to comment! I always want to go into a series with minimal knowledge on the books. It’s so great to see you rate this book highly! I haven’t started The Witchlands but I’m already eager to. Fantastic review! 🧡

    Liked by 1 person

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