Wednesday, 2 March 2016

YA Fantasy Picks ~ Truthwitch & Reign of Shadows Reviews

YA fantasy is a tricky genre.

It's one of those genres that is really all about balance. Balance isn't easy to achieve by any means - it requires the author to immerse the reader fully in their fantasy world whilst retaining the reader's attention from start to finish. If the author focuses on one particular element too much - or too little - they risk their world and characters coming off as two-dimensional and cliche.

I myself am a fan of YA fantasy books which contain a mix of romance, adventure, mystery, and paranormal/magic elements. I don't want a fantasy story that drags on forever about the kingdom's illustrious war-studded history for pages on end...or one that is overpowered by a sappy romance that stopped being romantic after the first twenty kissy scenes not that I don't love a good kissy scene but there's only so much cheesiness I can take!

Today's post is all about showcasing two amazing examples of YA fantasy at its finest: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard and Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan. I'm so excited to share my thoughts (and favourite quotes!) with you guys.

First off, I just want to make my #1 dream known to everyone: Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard need to write a book together.

Because, honestly, a meeting between Celaena and Safiya would be everything - two badass women taking on the weeping-and-begging-for-his-life man at a time. 

(I would honestly accept any format: a novella, a page, a fanfiction entry...I just live for the moment where these two powerful heroines get together and debate the best way to dismember people!)

But enough about my fangirl fantasies. Let's get back to the book everyone's been talking about...

I'd heard a lot of mixed reviews about Truthwitch before I started it. Some people believed the book didn't live up to the hype, whilst others were crying into their pillows at night and wishing hard for the next book to come out.

But the truth of the matter is this: Susan Dennard is a genius and a goddess and I'd love to be her Threadsister any day!

From the very first page I was hooked. The sheer depth of the characters, their backstories, their emotions and motivations - it was awe-inspiring. It reminded me of the very first time I read Throne of Glass. It was like being introduced to the fantasy genre anew! It fed my love of fantasy and gave me characters who would take up a lot of room in my fangirl heart.

Truthwitch was no different. I fell head-over-heels for Susan Dennard's fantasy world, characters, plot and I can't forget the fighting and the kissing scenes because those were awesome! 

My favourite element of this book, though - apart from its pure and utter awesomeness - was the relationship between Safi and Merik.

Why? Because Susan Dennard teaches us that a relationship can change you for the better.

She doesn't take the cliche YA routes a.k.a:
(A) Two people fall in love. Birds trill and shooting stars rain down around them.
(B) Two people fall in love. One of them is the flawed one who messes up. They have to change in order to be with the other person.

Ms. Dennard forges her own path. A realistic path. She creates a relationship that is originally based on an underlying mutual attraction and strong distrust. And this relationship evolves in a unique way as both people in it realise that they're both in the wrong. Both have trust issues, but both are also used to getting their own way.

The scene where Merik has to choose between maintaining his image in front of his crew and his relationship with Safi is one of the best and tear-inducing scenes in the whole book for me. Not because it's sad or horrible, but because it shows us how far they've both come. Merik's choices are a reflection of the man he is, just as Safi's are a reflection of the women she is and the lengths she will go to in order to protect those she loves. 

But both are willing to negotiate on certain points and admit that they have flaws when it comes to love and loyalty. And this is what makes their relationship so potent and so memorable.

So if you love fantasy and you love stories that sweep you off your feet, Truthwitch needed to be on your bookshelf yesterday!

Favourite quote

Reign of Shadows proves that you should never underestimate anyone.

From the very start of the novel, we're introduced to an extremely curious and capable heroine. Luna is as far off from being a damsel-in-distress type as Katniss Everdeen is from being a Girl Scout. But it's not until you reach a certain page, and a certain scene, that you uncover the little tidbit that was conveniently left out of the book's blurb and opening chapter.

Luna can't see. She's been blind since birth.

The fact that I'd had no idea made me so, so happy. Why? Because it wasn't made to be a big deal - it didn't make her an outcast, or an undesirable, or someone whom the author felt was defined by a single disability. Luna was treated like a normal YA heroine, who was capable for doing things for herself and being a total badass as well.

It reminded me of Richelle Mead's Soundless, in the way that it immersed readers in a world devoid of one sense. Whilst Soundless' was the sense of hearing, Reign of Shadows provides readers with detailed descriptions so many beautifully written descriptions that I wanted to bookmark every page! that make Luna's blindness almost non-existent - or at least make it a detail but not a hurdle.

You never feel like anything's missing. In fact, the book's imagery is even more vivid because of the detailed references to sounds and textures and tastes. 

Beware those who underestimate the power of a girl with a mission.

Luna isn't the 'blind girl'. She's a princess with the heart of a warrior. But she does come across people who feel the need to coddle her, or make decisions for her. They act as if because she can't see, she can't do anything.

But ultimately this kind of behaviour is just laughable...because you know for certain they're gonna end up eating their own words! It's a bit hard to call a girl 'helpless' after she single-handedly saves your life from terrifying creatures and gets you to safety. Just a little bit ;)

With a fierce heroine and quote-worthy lines, what's not to love?

The only criticism I would give, is that the ending didn't quite fit for me. It felt a little rushed - as if the author was running out of pages and needed to get across an invisible finish line. 

The 'twist' wasn't as much of a twist as it was an interesting and unknown fact being brought to light. It didn't shock me and there wasn't enough information available on the subject for me to be able to have a reaction to it. Luna's reaction was also short-lived because straight after she discovers the twist, she's plunged straight back into fighting for her life.

Reign of Shadows is a book that makes its way out of the shadows and into the spotlight. If you enjoy intriguing POVs, this is one for you.

Favourite quote

Have you read either of these books? Who is your favourite YA fantasy character?

Let me know in the comments below!

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized. 

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet. 

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

Add to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.  

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.  

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.  

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. 

For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Add to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

Although I was provided with a review copy by the author and/or publisher, all opinions expressed in the following review are purely my own. To find out more, please visit my disclaimer page.


  1. I SERIOUSLY CANNOT WAIT TO READ REIGN OF SHADOWS NOW!! *happy dance* What I loooove is when books remove one sense but really amp up the others. That is good writing. I just read Not if I See You First, which is about a blind protagonist too, but...I mean, it left out the description, but didn't add in textures or sounds or tastes or smells to really bring the story off the page. Wah. Disappointing. SO YEAH. I'm really excited for ROS. xD I didn't love Truthwitch unfortunately, though. Ohhh, but did you know Sarah J Maas and Susan Dennard sort of half-write an online sci-fi story on tumblr??? I can't remember what it's called *facepalm* but it's out there somewhere! :D

    1. Whatever this tumblr story is called I need it SO BADLY!! Honestly they're both fiction goddesses and I'll track down that story if it's the last thing I do lol XD


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