ARC Review: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

title: Bloodwitch
author: Susan Dennard
pages: 464
format: ebook
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5
Genre: Fantasy
Topics: Magic, War
CW: Death, Violence  

5 lemons - I loved it a lot! 

Raising the stakes    

Full disclosure, Susan is one of my favorite authors and humans, so I'm naturally predisposed to love her stuff. That said, I began loving her writing long before I met her, and it's only gotten stronger since. Bloodwitch might be the best book she's written to date. Like Windwitch before it, it ups the stakes and takes the kind of risk that a lot of YA fantasy authors shy from. Good people get hurt. Bad people score some points. The best part about it is that you never feel confident. What happens will alway make sense, because Susan is a master of plot points that follow logically from each other, but it may still surprise you in its rawness. Kill your darlings, indeed. It's also balanced by sweetness, with some truly adorable moments between Aeduan and Iseult and an F/F ship that gives me all the feels.

Emphasis on "blood"  

When you start the book with a battlefield covered in corpses, you can kinda guess what it'll be like from there. This is one brutal book. Susan knocks her characters around so much that it's amazing any survive. But not in a gratutious way. They just go through some real shit, physically and emotionally. Iseult is still having terrifying visions. Aeduan is grappling with the fracturing of the organization he dedicated his life too. Merik is getting beaten up and bossed around by the Puppeteer (not a spoiler, it's like his first chapter). Safi is a sort-of-not prisoner to an empress. And Vivia is learning that some of the greatest enemies are the most subtle.

I'm seriously squealing inside as I write this, because I can't wait for you all to find out what happens! The characters go through so much growth in this book! Each of them feels complicated, real, and distinct. Iseult and Aeduan are both guarded people, and they spent a great deal of the book navigating their new alliance, and maybe a spark of something more? They're really the model for this book, in that they were enemies who are finding out that there's more to each other. This happens over and over in this book; enemies aren't so terrible, friends aren't so good, everyone seems to have their own agenda. Everything is shades of gray, making for a much more interesting read than your typical good-and-evil showdown.

Start Drawing Yourself a Map   

Bloodwitch is jam packed. It adds so much meat to the Witchlands canon. We don't see as much of Cam and Rhyber as I'd like (boo), but we do get more of Evrane and Habim--and some of their deepest secrets, which turn out to be really important. You'll also recognize some details from SIGHTWITCH if you read it (read it!). You learn more about the Carawens and the Sightwitch sisters. More about the Hellbards and Safi's uncle's plan for the empire. More about these mysterious paladins who blocked off the Origin Wells.

Susan's world has the complexity of adult fantasy with the character-driven action of a YA fantasy, making it satisfying on so many levels. With a magic sytem very different than most of what I've seen in YA. Finishing BW makes me want to go back and reread the series, because there's so much depth to the world and the mythology that I've only scratched the surface of. If GRRM revolutionized adult SFF, then Susan did it for YA.

Gimme The Slashy Stuff  

If you loved Truthwitch, Windwitch, and Sightwitch, then Bloodwitch will satisfy all your cravings for more Witchlands adventure. If you haven't read them yet, get on it! Then you too can have your heart shredded out (pleasantly) by this book. It's a great combination of action and intrigue, character development and cinematic fight scenes, revelations and tantalizing mysteries. And it's all made that much more compelling by Susan's tight, clear writing. Not a word out of place. Just enough to punch you in the gut.

Flipping that last page is agony. It's like leaving home, knowing you won't return for a while. 

My thoughts overall

A book truly worthy of the word "epic," filled with complex morality, fleshed out mythology, and characters you'll want to root for and return to, again and again.
Will I read this author again? Always
Will I continue this series? I'd do it now if I could  

Note: I received this copy from the author/publisher. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.  


  1. Great review! I’ve heard a lot of good things about this author... I’m thinking I should check here out now!

  2. just got my copy so i'm glad to hear it was as good as i hoped!