ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I actually received an “Extended Extract ARC” for this book. So basically, the first half of this review is going to be my opinions on chapters one through fifteen that were given to me for review. Then, I will tell you the rest of my thoughts on the book, now that it is officially released and I have bought it for chapters sixteen through forty. The fifteen chapters I did review, for Netgalley, were amazing. Easily one of my favorite reads for 2015. So I was very excited for my signed copy to get here from Books of Wonder, because I was really confident that I would love it based on the fifteen chapter ARC I received.
Review for Chapters 1-15:
The main theme of this book is friendship and what two young women can accomplish with it. It’s always so refreshing for me to read about a strong woman, but two is such a rarity. And they are actually best friends, and not catty and competitive with one another. This is so rare in YA, and I hope this starts a movement with more authors writing about how wonderful girl friendships can be. The only other series I can think of that also has an amazing girl/girl friendship is Cracked, and I absolutely adored that book as well.
In this world there are five Origin Wells that are spread across the Witchlands. Each Well is based off a major element –Aether, Earth, Water, Wind, or Fire. There is also a Void element that most people think is a myth, because they have no records of a Void Well. Every person in this world is a type of witch that derives from one of these elements. Like, there are so many different kinds of witches, it was insane. You have the basic Earthwitches and Firewitches, but you also have Voicewitches and Tidewitches. So basically your powers can be very broad or very focused.
The two best friends in this book have very different powers, but both of their powers are very unique. Iseult (my favorite of the two) is a Threadwitch, which means she can see other’s threads/outcomes. She cannot see her own or other Threadwitches, but she can see their intentions from different colors that appear. Safi is a Truthwitch that can obviously tell the truth from a lie (unless someone has a crazy amount of power to mask it). The special thing about her being a Truthwitch is that the last recorded one died a century ago. This makes Safi very valuable, especially with an upcoming Truth Summit.
The world building for this blew me away. There are three empires in this book that have a treaty for twenty years of peace. Well, that is about to end and a big Truth Summit is about to take place that will probably not end with much peace. This is why it’s so important for Safi to keep her magic hidden, because she could easily become a captive pawn in this game when so much will be at stake.
Both Safi and Iseult are good-hearted little trouble makers. After a run-in where they lose their money, they try to get a little revenge. Unfortunately for them, a Bloodwitch named Aeduan ends up putting them on his radar. Bloodwitches are another type of witch that is very rare and mostly unheard of anymore. Bloodwitches can smell a person’s blood and track them forever, so there is not much question on why they are so valuable, and now he’s on a mission to find these two troublemakers. They are also almost impossible to kill, because the only way is to completely sever the head from the body. Aeduan being able to track Safi is a huge problem the two girls are trying to overcome. Aeduan also has smelled Iseult ‘s blood and it’s the only blood he’s ever smelled that did not have a scent. Both girls soon realize that Bloodwitches can also manipulate blood, which is probably the most powerful magic I had read about yet. It was also very apparent to me (especially with the ending of Chapter Fifteen), that Aeduan will be Iseult’s love interest, and ohhhhmyyygawwwd do I ship that.
The girls split up and you get to see how different their lives are separated from one another. Safi lives a much wealthier life, with a very powerful Uncle. You also see hints and glimpses that the rest of Safi’s family is not around, but you never find out why but you do know that they were killed and her Uncle was not. She attends a ball and realizes more people are aware of her unusual power than what she originally thought. She also totally meets her love interest, Prince Merik.
Iseult comes from a witch tribe of Threadwitches that are lead by a man named Corlant, who is pretending to be one even though he is truly a Cursewitch. Cursewitches are also a witchcraft linked to the Void that seems very, very powerful . Iseult makes her way home once she is separated from Safi. Iseult reunites with her mother, another friend of hers, and her dog. Sadly the homecoming is short lived, because Corlant convinces the witch tribe that Iseult is the Puppeteer, which is something unknown and they all fear, and wants them to kill her because of it. Man, maybe Donald Trump, or the people who plan on voting for him, should read this book.
The half of this book that I was able to read was a breath of fresh air. I think it will speak to many readers on many ends of many spectrums. I think there is something likeable for everyone, and it will be very easy for readers to connect with. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the female friendship was beyond refreshing, and an absolute joy to read about. I want much more of this story. And much more Iseult and Aeduan, because holy shit that Chapter Fifteen cliffhanger!
Review for Chapters 16-40:
I went into this thinking I would lower my originally five star rating, because I thought something would happen to upset me, irritate me, or cast away the spell this book has put my heart under. That never happened, if anything, these following chapters helped me love this world more. The characters are fantastic, the world building blew me away (especially for a first book in a series), and the plot is original and mesmerizing. That last chapter even tied in with the first chapter, involving the Chiseled Cheater, and that is another surefire way to make sure your book makes it into my heart.
This book also introduces “sex foxes” with are totally glorified sirens; which is a huge guilty pleasure/weakness for me. It was a wonderful take on them, and like I said, I’m just smitten for mythical creatures that lure men to their deaths.
I thought I was so in love with Iseult and Aeduan’s story line, until I read the rest of this book and realized how freakin’ in love I am with Safi and Merik. They are totally reminding me of Cleo and Magnus in Falling Kingdoms, with the “I love to hate you” romances, that somehow just work for me. I couldn’t get enough of them in the last half of this book. Then, Safi’s “deal” with Vaness and the surprise in Merik’s jacket…. be still, my heart.
Aeduan is even more complex that I imagined in the first fifteen chapters. He surprises me left and right with his
thoughtfulness life-debts and his past with Evrane blew me away!. I’m nervous and excited to learn about his father in the next book.
Evrane was an amazing new character, and her shedding light on the truth about the Cahr Awen definitely opens up the story a little more. Or, it like, breaks down the wall for a million story arcs now.
Iseult’s role was smaller in the last half of this book, just because she was sick thanks to the cursed arrow from Corlant a lot, and mostly just healing. I still enjoyed her character and her devotion to her friendship with her Threadsister.
It’s only January 6th and, without a doubt, this book is going to make it on my “Best of 2016” list come December. This book truly proves that “friendships can be just as epic as romances” and we need a whole lot of that in this world. I would recommend this to everyone.