Windwitch by Susan Dennard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've found over the last year or so that while the YA Cool Kids' Table (the likes of Schwab, Bracken, Aveyard, Maas, Silvera, etc.) all can't stop raving about Susan Dennard and her Witchlands, the average reader has a harder time buying into the hype. I enjoyed Truthwitch well enough, but unfortunately, Windwitch is a come-down, a case of Sophomore Slump.
That's not to say the book is entirely a write-off. Far from it, because like its predecessor, Windwitch benefits from a blistering pace and some high-intensity witchery action. Unfortunately, while those elemental Avatar-esque elements still run strong, Dennard here doubles down on some George R.R. Martin-esque storytelling - not so much in terms of killing your faves off the way Jay Kristoff would, but more in terms of dividing the story between several POVs that get only a few pages at a time before switching to the next one. I loved Safi and Iseult in the first book, but this book, sadly, dispenses a lot with Safi's story and compensates by focusing heavily on Merik, as well as Vivia, who I found terribly unengaging compared with the other POV characters (including Aeduan, who's becoming one of my faves now.) The worst part is, while the book doesn't move any slower for these multiple POVs, it also contributes to a general sense that the plot, like that of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or Mr. Robot, is going nowhere fast because the character sheet is just too bloated and un-streamlined.
I'm not done with my exploration of the Witchlands anytime soon - and Dennard promises something really cool right in the title of the upcoming threequel, Bloodwitch - but now I'm going to go forward a little more cautiously, because this is a hype train I'm not enjoying riding nearly as much as, say, Red Queen.
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