TRUTHWITCH Pen Pal Blog Tour: Susan Dennard Interview + Review!

Packed with adventure, Susan Dennard’s TRUTHWITCH is a magical, fast-paced start to the Witchlands series.

Along with other readers across the internet, we’re participating in a pen pal blog tour to kick off the release of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Lucy over at TheBookBelle and I teamed up to ask Susan about her process for writing the draft.

Truthwitch pen pal blog tour

How long did it take you to write the first draft? Was it a difficult process compared to the Something Strange and Deadly series? 

The first draft was an interesting beast because I actually wrote the first 200 pages in a flurry of inspiration…and then sat on it for 7 months. Well, I didn’t just sit on it—I revised the pages with my critique partners and agent, and then we sent the pages on submission to editors. Rather than the write the whole book up front (and possibly waste time), my agent and I wanted to see if anyone would buy it.

Well, someone DID! So after 7 months of not drafting new story, I hunkered down and finished it all up in 2 months.

Now the draft I had at the end of those 2 months, was TERRIBLE. A total mess with dropped plots and missing emotional beats and lots of [insert setting here!]. So I spent the next 2 months revising/rewriting/transforming the skeleton of a story I had into a full book.

I’m not gonna lie—it was MUCH harder than the Something Strange & Deadly series. Primarily because I was working with 4 main points of view (instead of just 1), and the world is so, so, SO huge. Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters really only stay in one place per book, but Safi, Iseult, Merik, and Aeduan? They literally cross a continent!

But it was so worth the extra headaches to make a larger, more complicated story. I still love the world and the characters so much!

After reading my thoughts on the book below, head on over to Lucy’s YouTube channel to hear what she has to say! I’ll give you a hint: we both loved it.

Truthwitch absolutely exceeded my expectations as, generally, I’m not a huge fan of YA books set in the fantasy genre. I was worried the plot or characters would be predictable — and I was wrong. It tells the very complex story from four different points of view, allowing readers to completely immerse themselves in the Witchlands from start to finish.

Watch the book trailer for Truthwitch

The novel’s premise is fascinating. Main characters and best friends Safiya and Iseult are two different kinds of witches: Safiya, a Truthwitch, has the power to discern truth from lies, a magic that is unique and sought-after. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the ties that entangle the world (and people) around her. As war threatens the Witchlands, Safiya and Iseult must rely on each other like never before.

At the very start, the novel jumps right into the action. The intensity was almost jarring but necessary to create a sense of urgency for the characters, and it was a while before I could catch my breath.

The relationship between Safiya and Iseult is by far my favorite part of the book. Both are such unique characters that really complement one another in everything from personality to powers. An especially interesting dynamic involves their opposite upbringings, as Safiya is born into nobility and Iseult is a social outcast.

I was pleased that I didn’t find either of their personalities to be predictable, as both of them have flaws and strengths that make them well-rounded and interesting to read. Specifically, Dennard explores the darker aspects of their upbringings rather than glossing over details.

Dennard intricately explores their similarities and differences with an attention to detail that creates very interesting characters; I found myself rooting for both throughout the book. Of course, they’re joined by a witty (and very cute) Prince Merik, who is interesting in his own way. While Iseult and Safiya were definitely my favorites in the novel, I enjoyed Prince Merik’s presence – and his magic is very cool (but I’ll let you read that for yourself).

Truthwitch UK Cover

Dennard’s writing is beautiful. I’m picky with writing styles as they will usually make or break a book for me, but she navigates the complexity of the world with ease and an abundance of vivid detail. Her action sequences are exciting and easy to follow, and she really builds the environment from the ground up.

With war stirring in the Witchlands,Dennard adds a layer of political intricacy atop the drama between her characters. Not only does it add to the plot, but political turmoil is a concept that many readers can relate to.

Because the world is so complex (there are three empires, a variety of new terms, and many unique names), at some points I found it necessary to reread certain parts of the story which then led to occasional confusion. Especially in the first half of the book, the pacing was so fast that I had to pause intermittently to keep up with the plot and refresh myself on the story. This was a bit of a drawback to my reading experience.

If I can offer any advice: take your time. There are a lot of intricacies involved in this story, and it’s worth it to soak up the details instead of missing something crucial and having to backtrack. It definitely took me some time to get all of the characters’ names straight.

Despite some issues with pacing, I was very impressed with Truthwitch. Susan Dennard truly thought of her story from every angle and built a world with plenty of room for characters to grow, and I’m looking forward to see what she does next!

My grade: B+

You can order a copy of Truthwitch today!


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