Hello, and welcome back to another “Chelscey was real late to the party on this one” review. Yes, I am finally diving into the Witchlands with “Truthwitch” and yes, it’s my first book by Susan Dennard though I have followed her and her writing advice for years now. And coming out of this book, I can finally appreciate the “it’s me” and not the book feelings. Because “Truthwitch” is such a firm YA novel with its chosen one tropes and bonded pairs, and that’s great, but not for me as an actual adult anymore. It’s kind of nice knowing that that’s just a problem with me and not Safi and her witchery, so I can remove that element and really decipher what did and didn’t work for me.
“Poseidon’s Trident” starts almost immediately after the first book, where our main characters, the Chosen One’s of the prophecy are attempting to find (ie: steal) the godly items they need to wage war on the Greek gods and free humanity from its enslavement to these selfish, brutal deities. Be forewarned, the second book starts right in on what Andy and Zoey are attempting to do without much in the way of recap, so if you don’t remember what happened in the first book or who is who, you’ll want to refresh yourself a bit before starting this adventure, otherwise you may be a bit lost going in. But one of the things I like best about this author and her series are the subtle details she puts in that are spot on with the source material of the Greek myths, and that’s just as true in the second book as it was in the first.
“The Nature of Witches” is a true, and beautiful, YA story featuring a heroine born with a wonderful and strong power that she does not want because of the devastating effects it can have on those closest to her. Clara, as the only Ever in over a century, is desperately needed to hold the world’s atmosphere together while witches and non-witches alike figure out how to reverse the effects of climate change. But Clara feels too out of control, too scared of her own magic to want the responsibility. If she can’t keep her magic from hurting those she loves, she’d rather not have it at all. See what I mean about this being a true-blue YA novel? This book is very much a coming of age, self-discovery novel with the overall message being: love heals, but you have to be willing to let it. It’s a beautiful message, and there were some equally beautiful scenes in this book, too. So why was I kind of “meh” about it?
When people kept saying that this book was like Mulan meets Project Runway, I took it with a grain of salt. Usually those comparisons are loose, or the elements are there, but not in a significant way. That’s not the case with “Spin the Dawn”. Oh no! The Project Runway and Mulan elements were STRONG in this book, especially for the first half of the novel (and again toward the end but mainly early on). Was I mad about this? Absolutely not! I can’t remember the last YA fantasy I devoured the way I did this magical story of Maia, who dreams of being the Imperial Tailor but can’t because of her gender. Then, when a decree is called for a new Imperial Tailor, and all the great Masters of the land must participate in the competition, or send their son in their stead, Maia steps in for her ailing father, and war broken brother. Pretending to be a boy and fooling all the men she’s competing with turns out to be the easiest of the trials and dangers Maia had to face, which tells you already how exciting this book ended up being.
Any Alice in Wonderland fans who like the concept of retellings, but still want something wholly unique? “Labyrinth Lost” is that in spades! Meet Alex, a girl who believes magic is a curse and will do anything to avoid her Deathday and deny the magic in her blood. And, because this is a YA fantasy after all, her desire backfires when she takes steps to strip her magic away and instead banishes her family to a place of nightmares; where bruja’s and brujo’s are sent to be punished. Desperate to save her family, Alex ventures to Los Lagos to free them, meeting strange, nightmarish creatures, and those disguised only to appear like nightmares, on the journey. And, again because it’s YA, learning about herself, her magic, and the idea of family being home all at once. While this book has some mixed reviews, I have to say, I really, really enjoyed Cordova’s interpretation of witches, magic, and the ceremonies and gods that inhabit this world.
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