Call Down The Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy #1) Review

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Book: Call Down The Hawk (Dreamer #1)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Farooq-Lane and Liliana talk about the end of the world.

Content Warnings: Blood & gore, death, suicide, murder, vomit

Obviously when I heard there was going to be a spin-off of The Raven Cycle centring around Ronan, I was really excited, I love the whole Raven Cycle world and was looking forward to going back to it. I have to admit though, I didn’t love Call Down The Hawk as much as I expected. The plot was kind of slow and meandering, which was to be expected, it’s Maggie Stiefvater’s style but it didn’t have the great characters and central friendship dynamics which made The Raven Cycle so great. It wasn’t all bad, I liked the developments when it came to dreaming and the end of the story felt like it was building to something exciting in the next book, but overall, it just wasn’t quite what I expected it would be. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

My main problem with this book is the same problem I have with most Maggie Stiefvater books, it takes forever to get going! This wasn’t a massive problem for me with The Raven Cycle because I loved the characters so much that I didn’t care, but when the large majority of the cast are new and you’re not already invested, the slow pacing of the plot becomes more of a problem and it felt like basically nothing was happening until right at the very end. It was also perhaps a little longer than I would have liked, it definitely felt like it could have been trimmed a little.

There are three main characters in this book: Ronan, Hennessy and Farooq-Lane, and their storylines feel largely disjointed for most of the book. We do eventually get to a point where all the storylines finally connect, but that’s about 3/4 of the way through the book, which means the plot doesn’t feel cohesive. Plotting has never really been Maggie Stiefvater’s strong point and there are definitely messy aspects to the way the plot unravels in this book as well.

In terms of the new characters, I liked Hennessy and her clones, I thought the whole girl who dreamt copies of herself into existence was pretty cool and it felt very Orphan Black which is a show I really enjoyed. It’s quite confusing initially because the two main girls are both Jordan Hennessy (the original goes by Hennessy, the copy goes by Jordan) but it settles pretty quickly. Also if you are going to make your character British, then at least try to do some research into British slang, no one here says “crumbs” or “bruv”! I genuinely don’t understand how Hennessy doesn’t suffer more with sleep deprivation though, if I only had twenty minutes sleep at a time, I would be seriously grouchy!

However, aside from Jordan (the copy), the copies don’t really get much fleshing out and I feel like there was no real need for Hennessy to have so many copies, Stiefvater could have still had the whole, she gets a tattoo for each copy and the tattoos are killing her plotline without having all the copies around, especially when they barely had any personality of their own. It also doesn’t look massively great when Hennessy and her copies are the only POC characters in the book, and the copies quite regularly die.

Carmen Farooq-Lane (referred to mostly by her surname throughout the book) was kind of an enigma to me. I didn’t really get who she was as a character, I didn’t really understand her motivations and I couldn’t really place her role in the book, since up till the very end, she doesn’t really have anything to do with either Hennessy or Ronan.

I really liked getting to see more of the Lynch family dynamic here, that was one of the highlights of this book for me. It was brilliant to get more of insight into Declan and I definitely came out of this book with more sympathy for him, he’s basically spent his entire life trying to clean up his brother’s messes and he’s only in his 20’s! It was also really heartbreaking to see Matthew come to terms with his origins (whilst providing some much needed comic relief at his questions over internal organs). We only really got Ronan’s insights into his family in TRC, so it was nice to be able to see the other side in this book, and the Lynch family dynamic went some way to delivering on the missing banter from the Gangsey in this book (though I still definitely missed them!).

It was cool to have the role of dreamers expanded in this book and learn more about their abilities, though it seems strange that nightwash and the fact that dreamers are unable to go too far from the ley lines wasn’t mentioned at all in The Raven Cycle.

I was very confused as to what Bryde and the Lace actually were though, and I’m hoping that gets explained more in the next book. I also want to know more about Mor Corra, Niall’s clone and Boudicca because those things come up but are kind of brushed over and not really explained.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing was lovely as always and the dreamlike quality of it definitely worked well for this book.

I was kind of expecting there to be more Adam in this? Don’t get me wrong, I loved what we did see and the fact that Adam’s name in Ronan’s contacts is Management made me chuckle, but I just wish we’d got to see them together a little more.

Parsifal’s OCD was well done (also #ownvoices as Maggie Stiefvater also has OCD) but I wish it had been named on page especially as it’s something that you don’t see all that often.

The moderators are supposedly the villains in this book but they never really feel actively scary or threatening? I suppose because their purpose is kind of woolly, “stop the end of the world” and we don’t really know how or why dreamers are meant to be responsible for the end of the world so the moderators don’t feel like an active threat.

Ronan’s arc in this of struggling with his friends moving on and going in different directions, whilst he wants more for his life and feels kind of stuck where he is was really great and felt very relatable! It was nice to see Ronan take more of a starring role here and see him really come into his own with his dreaming, though I will say, again, the race dynamics feel a bit off where Ronan (the white character) is brilliant at dreaming and Hennessy (the black character) is unable to dream anything other than copies of herself.

There were way too many random character POVs in this that didn’t really seem to add anything, and I didn’t really get the point of them.

The whole ending was also really confusing, I didn’t really understand anything that was going on because the last few chapters were so rushed. I don’t know where Hennessy and Ronan went, I have no idea what was going on with the Moderators and it just felt like the book was almost unfinished? It definitely didn’t end in a natural place, that’s for sure!

Overall, there were definitely promising aspects to this book, and I will still be reading onto the sequel, but it didn’t live up to my expectations: the pacing was off, the plot was a little messy and I missed the fun and humour from The Raven Cycle. I’m hoping that the second book in the trilogy will be better now that the groundwork has been made in this book.

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will be of my latest Netgalley read, Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, which I’m almost done with.

 

Top Ten Tuesday #266

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since my last TTT, nothing has really changed here, we’re still in lockdown and though I could see more of my friends now, I live too far away from most of them to visit without using public transport, so that’s not great. It looks like the weather is going to turn more typically UK in the next few days as well (i.e. cold and rainy) which is a shame!

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Books That Give off Summer Vibes, which I’m not going to lie was a tricky one for me. Most of the books I read definitely fit into the Autumn/Winter vibe category, I prefer books that are a bit darker! So suffice to say, this week’s list will be a bit shorter than normal, because I just couldn’t come up with much:

  1. The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants-Ann Brashares

This entire series is set over consecutive summers in the lives of Bridget, Lena, Carmen and Tibby, plus it’s all about friendship so definitely fits with the theme of warm, summery vibes.

2. Rebel of The Sands-Alwyn Hamilton

Nothing says summer vibes like reading a book that’s primarily set in a desert? Ironically, I read this one in February, so the weather was definitely not summery, but what is reading for if not to escape the gloomy, British weather!

3. Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series-Rick Riordan

This was one of the first books to come to mind when I this topic came up, since obviously all of the original series books are set during summers at Camp Half-Blood (well except the third one) and the humour and friendship in this series also gives off very summery vibes.

4. Dangerous Girls-Abigail Haas

The whole murder part of this book doesn’t exactly give off summer vibes, but it is set in Aruba, a decidedly warm and sunny setting so I think it qualifies. It works in a sort of Death In Paradise kind of way, gorgeous setting, gruesome murder. Plus this is one of my favourite thrillers ever!

5. The Girl From Everywhere-Heidi Heilig

Okay, so technically the large majority of this book is set in October, but it still feels very summery to me, I don’t know if that’s because when I think of Hawaii, my mental pictures are usually quite summery, but there’s just something about the book that gives me a very summery feeling.

6. The City of Brass-S.A. Chakraborty

Again, the setting here gives off very summery vibes. We open up in Cairo and obviously again when I think of Egypt, I think of heat and then when we get to Daevabad, there’s something about the city that just feels very summery to me, just the way that it’s described gave off very summery vibes.

So there we go, that’s my shortened TTT for this week! I wish I could have come up with more, but honestly, I just don’t read that many summery books! Have you read any of these? What summer reads would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week, hopefully with a normal length TTT, talking about Books I’ve Added To My TBR And Forgotten Why.

Book Vs Movie: The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants

Hello everyone! It may be the last day of the month, but I’m still just in time to get this month’s Book Vs Movie post in. This month I’m talking about The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants and its film adaptation.

Book Thoughts:

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I don’t know how old I was when I read this one, I think maybe 12 or 13? Definitely pre-teen/young teenager anyway. It’s a cute story, not my usual kind of thing but I remember really enjoying it when I did read it, I think because although there was quite a bit of romance in it, what I really remember was the friendship between the four girls and that was always more important than whatever boyfriends/love interests they had which was great.

Movie Thoughts:

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005) - IMDb

Again, I enjoyed the movie. It’s pretty faithful to the book, to be honest, I saw the film so long after I read the book that I probably wouldn’t have picked up any inconsistencies anyway! I think they did a really good job on the casting, all of the actresses were really good in their roles and it’s a nice, sweet, comforting film, perfect for a Friday evening with a tub of ice cream!

Movie or Book Judgement:

I liked them both, but I actually think I’d go with the movie here as I’d probably prefer to come back to the story that way rather than reading the book again.

That’s it for this month’s Book Vs Movie, I will be back again next month, talking about Artemis Fowl and the new movie adaptation.

Writing Corner: On Working As A Journalist In Another Country

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(Yes, I am using this as an excuse to share more pretty pictures of Cape Town).

Hi everyone! I’m back with my May Writing Corner, and as I mentioned at the end of the last post for this feature, I’m going to be talking in a little more depth about my time at Cape Chameleon at the beginning of this year and what it was like doing journalism in a foreign country, which I hope will be quite interesting for you guys!

I didn’t really know much what to expect when I arrived in Cape Town back in January, obviously I’d been given information about where my placement was and I’d familiarised myself with the Cape Chameleon site and some of the other articles that had been published, so I knew the kinds of things that other volunteers had written, but I didn’t really know what to expect from the day to day running of my placement.

I was pretty much thrown right in when I started, my supervisor talked me through the site, the editorial policy and the theme that she wanted for January’s articles which was Human Rights and then set me to writing up a pitch for my article. Pitching articles was not something I really had to do at Uni, but it’s definitely a skill I’m glad I picked up during my time at Cape Chameleon as I’m sure it’s going to be very useful in the future!

Coming up with my initial story idea actually wasn’t the most difficult bit. By a stroke of luck, I’d actually come across a story before I came to South Africa that fitted really well with the Human Rights theme: the protests against gender based violence which erupted after the rape and murder of a University of Cape Town student in September 2019.

For journalists, your social network is one of the most important things. Knowing people that you can contact for any given story is always going to be incredibly useful and this is one of the initial hurdles you face when you’re writing stories abroad: in the UK, I might know of people/organisations that I can approach, in Cape Town, where I wasn’t really familiar with anything yet, I did not.

However, as with any news story, a Google search for people and organisations who are involved with the topic you are wanting to cover is always a good place to start. Pretty soon, I had a list of contacts from organisations which worked on tackling gender based violence.

Taking on any controversial news story though, it’s inevitable that some people won’t want to talk to you and for several days, I didn’t hear back from any of the contacts that my supervisor and I had emailed. This was also another learning curve when it came to working in a different country: people in South Africa tended to respond slower to emails than people I’d contacted for interviews in the UK, so follow ups were key, especially when I only ever had a week at most to turn an article around.

When it came to the interviews, there were other considerations that I had to take into account that were specific to my situation and the country I was working in. When I did interviews in the UK, if I was doing a face to face interview, I would either walk (if it was an interview I was doing in Stirling and the place was within walking distance) or take public transport to my interview and I would always go alone. In Cape Town, for safety reasons we weren’t encouraged to take public transport and walking was a big no, so I would take an Uber to all of my interviews and I never went to any of them alone, as I felt safer travelling with another person, so I either went with my supervisor or once with the other girl on my placement. All my interviews also had to be relatively local, in order to keep Uber bills (which were covered by Projects Abroad) to a minimum.

One of the best things specifically about doing Journalism in a different country, is that you get to see more than just the tourist spots. Over the course of ten weeks in Cape Town, I interviewed people who worked for a variety of different organisations, from the Women’s Legal Centre, to Rape Crisis, to the Cart Horse Protection Association and all of these organisations were in different areas which I may not have visited had I not been doing interviews.

I was also very lucky with my placement in that we were allowed pretty much free rein in what we wanted to write about. I recognise that this is unusual and when I work as a journalist I probably won’t have the same amount of freedom but it was a really lovely thing to be able to choose the stories that I wanted to write and pitch what I felt most passionately about to my supervisor. I think that really improved the quality of my work as well, because having an enthusiasm for a topic definitely shines through in your writing.

I feel like writing in a different country also allowed me to really stretch my skills as a journalist to cover topics that I might not necessarily have tackled writing here. I don’t think I would have covered either of my controversial topic articles, gender based violence or illegal abortions here in the UK, not because those topics aren’t important, but more because I’d never really had the opportunity to tackle things like that when I was writing as a student journalist (aside from covering the results of the Irish abortion referendum in 2018 for The National Student). In Cape Town though, with my supervisor wanting us to write at least one article covering a controversial topic a month, I really had to stretch myself to come up with articles that would challenge me as a writer and be thought provoking and interesting for readers.

Getting to meet people who do really cool things is obviously one of best things about being a journalist and that’s even more true when you’re writing abroad, I got to meet so many amazing people whilst I was out in Cape Town, and it thrilled me even more that so many of the people I interviewed were women doing really great things to improve the lives of other women. I found interviewing the counselling co-ordinator from Rape Crisis Cape Town really inspiring and definitely came away from that filled with desire for change. I also interviewed a lawyer at the Women’s Legal Centre when I was doing my article about illegal abortion, and it was definitely the kind of interview where I felt like I could genuinely have asked her questions all day long about her work, they specifically focus on women’s rights which obviously thrilled me.

I recognise that not everyone will have the time/money/opportunity to go and work in a different country as a journalist, whether you’re doing it as a volunteer like me or if you have a paid job. However, if you do have all of those things, then I would definitely recommend taking advantage of writing opportunities abroad: I had a brilliant time, I learned so much and it’s definitely an interesting talking point on your CV when it comes to applying for jobs!

Have any other writers out there spent time working as a writer in a different country? Would you like to if you haven’t? Anyone else been to Cape Town? Let me know in the comments!

If you’d like to read any of my work for Cape Chameleon, you can find my articles here, they’re still relatively recent, so you can find quite a few of them on the first page:

https://capechameleon.co.za/

As always, if you are a writer and you would like be featured on Writing Corner, I have spots available through the rest of the year, from June To December, then please get in touch! You can contact me either via my email (jo.ell.x@hotmail.com) or through my DM’s on Twitter (@iloveheartlandX). I take all writers, published/unpublished, agented/unagented and it doesn’t have to be about fiction: journalists, poets, non-fiction writers, everyone is welcome here!

I should have my May Book Vs Movie post up tomorrow (I know, sneaking it in at the last minute), and I’m hoping to have my review of my final read of May, Call Down The Hawk up on Monday, so keep a look out for those.

 

Top Ten Tuesday #265

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, the monotony of lockdown life continues over here, but I went for a nice walk with my family on Bank Holiday Monday yesterday and the weather continues to be nice so it’s not all doom and gloom here.

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Opening Lines. I was initially going to do my favourite Opening Lines from books, but then I realised that most of the ones I had were remarkably similar to ones I’d used for a Thursday Quotables topic a few years ago. So I decided to tweak my choice of Opening Lines topic a little, and go with Best Opening Lines From My Favourite Authors’ Books. Some are the same as from that Thursday Quotables topic, but this allowed me for a lot more new ones, so it shouldn’t be a complete rehash:

  1. “Look I didn’t want to be a half-blood” -The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan

I was instantly hooked by this first line and wanted to know more, which is exactly what an opening to a book should do. I really hope the new TV series starts with this, would be so brilliant!

2. “Kell wore a very peculiar coat” -A Darker Shade of Magic, VE Schwab

Again, this opening line is just instantly intriguing. We have no idea who Kell is or what about this particular coat is strange, but you want to know more, don’t you?

3. “Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told she’d kill her true love” -The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater

The opening line to this book (and series) tells you a lot that you need to know already, before you’ve even met most of the characters. You know that Blue is going to be important and you know that she’s going to kill her true love. What you don’t yet know is how or why, which sets up an intriguing beginning for a very strange series.

4. “Maybe I’d always been broken inside” -A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J Maas

The opening line to A Court of Mist and Fury really sets up Feyre’s current state of mind and the journey that she is going to go on over the course of the book.

5. “Gordon Edgely’s sudden death came as a shock to everyone-not least himself” -Skulduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy

It’s an interesting move to start a series with a character that is not the main character, but it really works here. It sets up the humour and tone for the book whilst also making the reader wonder, well who is Gordon Edgely and why is he dead?

6. “By the time Alex was able to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it” -Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo

It was a toss up between this and the opening to Six of Crows, but I went with this one because as good an opening line as Six of Crows has, Joost is barely relevant to the story. This one on the other hand, sets up the main character of the book, establishes that this opening is set sometime in the future so we know that we are likely to be flashing back through the book and it also establishes that someone has likely died, given that Alex’s coat has blood on it. That’s quite a lot of heavy lifting that this opening line does!

7. “Mr and Mrs Dursley of Number 4 Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” -Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling

I will admit that I wouldn’t necessarily position JK Rowling as a favourite anymore, given well…..everything, but I do still love Harry Potter and this opening line is pretty iconic. By setting up the story with the Dursleys and establishing how normal they are, you are immediately given to wondering where the “abnormality” is in this particular world.

8. “It’s rare that a story starts at the beginning” -The Mime Order, Samantha Shannon

This doesn’t really do much in terms of setting up world and characters (though it is a second book, so that’s pretty well done by this point) and it’s more sort of a mini prologue before we get into the story proper, but I really love this musing, because it’s very true? When we read books, we’re never actually starting at the beginning of someone’s story. we’re starting at the beginning of whatever interesting thing is about to happen to them.

9. “The scythe arrived late on a cold November afternoon” -Scythe, Neal Shusterman

I immediately have questions on reading this, you want to know exactly what is a scythe, what is this particular one doing and why is he important to the story?

10. “They said that the only folk who belonged in Deadshot after dark were the ones who were up to no good” -Rebel of The Sands, Alwyn Hamilton

Again, I’m instantly intrigued. We have a setting, Deadshot and we know that the people who live in this town might be less than savoury. You also immediately want to know exactly what kind of “no good” our narrator might be up to.

So there we go, those are some of my favourite opening lines from books by my favourite authors! Do you like any of these? What are your favourite opening lines? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next week with a new Top Ten Tuesday, Books That Give off Summer Vibes, which might be a tricky one for me, since I am firmly an Autumn/Winter vibe kind of reader, but we’ll see if I manage to come up with anything!

Top Ten Tuesday #264

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been doing well since I last did one of these, not much has changed here, we’re still largely in lockdown and I’m still pretty bored, though all the extra down time has allowed me to get a lot of reading done which is good and the weather has been nice so far this week, so you know…small silver linings.

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday for you all, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re given largely free rein, as the topic was Reasons Why I Love….(insert topic here). I’ve decided to share the Reasons Why I Love VE Schwab’s books, as she has become one of my favourite authors in the last few years.

  1. They remind me why I fell in love with reading in the first place

Not that I’ve ever fallen out of love with reading, but when I first read A Darker Shade of Magic, it reminded me exactly why reading became one of my favourite things. It takes a very special book to really transport you to another world and forget about the one you’re in for a while and A Darker Shade of Magic did that for me.

2. Her characters are brilliant

Nothing is ever black and white in a VE Schwab novel, all her characters live in various shades of morally grey. I mean she wrote two entire books about people who are objectively villains and yet we still fall in love with them because in a VE Schwab book nothing is ever as simple as villain/hero. I’ve fallen in love with so many of her characters over the four years I’ve been reading her books, and they are definitely one of the biggest draws for me.

3. She creates amazing worlds

World building is one of the biggest things to get right in any fantasy novel and VE Schwab nails it. She creates these brilliant worlds, detailed enough for you to get lost it but not so complicated that you find them confusing. I would love to get transported into the Londons and just explore!

4. No two of her books are the same, yet you can always feel that she wrote them

One of my favourite things about VE Schwab’s books is that though her books all have a very distinctive style and you can definitely tell that she is the author, no two of them are the same. She really does have something for everyone, whether you want to read about ghosts in haunted Edinburgh, or supervillains with ExtraOrdinary powers, she’s written so many books with different worlds and characters that there’s something for pretty much everyone if you look for it.

5. I love her writing style

Her writing is just brilliant and it really works for me as a reader? She never falls into the flowery prose trap, her writing is both beautiful and eminently quotable but it also always purposeful.

6. Reading her books inspired me to write again

When I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic in 2016, I hadn’t really written anything except fanfiction in a good four/five years and I’d kind of put my author dreams on the back burner. I fell so hard in love with A Darker Shade of Magic that it reminded me exactly why I’d started writing in the first place, and by the end of that year, I’d done my first NaNoWriMo.

7. She’s really open about the realities of publishing

This is more a general author life thing rather than specific to her books, but I appreciate how open she is about publishing and the difficulties she’s faced (as well as the great things that have happened to her) because it gives young writers like me a much clearer picture of the realities of the business.

8. She writes the best villains

This is kind of connected to #2, but villains are really hard to write well and VE Schwab does it with ease! Her villains are genuinely complex and scary (the Dane Twins anyone?) and she never falls into the trap of the cookie cutter, mustache twirling villain which I really appreciate.

9. She writes in different age categories so you could grow up with her books

Obviously this isn’t relevant to me, but it’s just something that I love, she writes middle grade, YA & Adult so if a kid started reading her books at 11 or 12, they could grow up through different age categories still reading her books.

10. Her books are generally paced really well

There have been some exceptions to this, as there always are but by and large, her books are brilliantly paced, which is something that always seems to be a massive issue for me with most books and I usually never have an issue with it in VE Schwab’s books: once I’ve started, I’m completely in it and carried along for the ride!

So there we go, those are the reasons I love VE Schwab’s books! Have you read any? Which one is your favourite? Are you planning on reading her books soon and want recommendations on where to start? Why do you love her books? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, this time we’ll be talking about Opening Lines and I’ll be sharing my Top Ten Favourite Opening Lines of Books.

Windwitch (Witchlands #2) Review (Audiobook)

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Book: Windwitch (Witchlands #2)

Author: Susan Dennard

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Cassandra Campbell

BECHDEL TEST: Uncertain, I didn’t keep track!

Content Warnings: Transphobia/mental misgendering of a character, violence, death, mentions of slavery

I really enjoyed Truthwitch when I read it back in February, I loved the central female friendship, I enjoyed the magic and though I found the world building confusing, I did enjoy the world. Therefore I was excited to dive into Windwitch, however I found it had classic second book syndrome, pacing issues, lack of narrative cohesion and a plot that didn’t really seem to bring the characters much further forward than they were at the end of Truthwitch. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In this follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, a shadow man haunts the Nubrevnan streets, leaving corpses in his wake―and then raising those corpses from the dead. Windwitch continues the tale of Merik―cunning privateer, prince, and windwitch.

I’ll start with my biggest issue with this book, the sheer number of point of view characters. There are 5 different point of view characters in this book, and often the perspective would shift multiple times in one chapter which made things kind of difficult to follow. I don’t know if this was exacerbated by the fact that I was listening to the audio, but I definitely would have found it easier to follow had there not been so many different perspectives. For instance, Iseult and Aeduan are together for a large portion of the book, we didn’t need both of their perspectives all the way through? Same for Merik and Vivia, once the two were together, we didn’t necessarily need both their perspectives anymore.

I also felt like I got confused as to who all the different characters were? Obviously I got the main characters, but there were so many different side characters that I genuinely couldn’t keep up with who everyone was!

There were also a lot of issues with the pacing of this book. For about 60-70% of the book, it was very slow as the characters were largely travelling, and then towards the end, everything got so fast paced that again, it was difficult to follow and I was less excited by all the action and more just confused as to what was going on.

If I’d had access to the paperback, I probably would have gone with that over the audiobook. I didn’t mind the way the narrator read the general text, but I wasn’t a fan of the way she did the different character voices when she was doing character thoughts or dialogue. The accents were all just far too similar and it was difficult to keep track of who was speaking. For convenience sake I probably will be reading the rest of the books in audio, as I don’t have the paperbacks of the rest of the books, but I’ve definitely listened to better narrators since I started listening to audiobooks last year.

The storylines didn’t feel massively connected, obviously Merik’s and Vivia’s were and Aeduan and Iseult’s but their storylines were separate from each other and from Safi’s as well, so it didn’t feel like this book was one cohesive narrative, more like several separate narratives combined into one book. It was also a little strange that given that this book was named after Merik, his storyline was probably the least memorable!

I actually really liked Vivia in this book? In the first book, she felt like your classic one dimensional villain but it was nice to get to see more into her character in this book and see beyond Merik’s rather clouded view of her.

I was really sad that Safi and Iseult were separated for most of this book, as I loved their friendship in the first book and it definitely felt like a lot of the “fun” from that book was missing from this one. I did however appreciate that Iseult having some time on her own allowed her to grow into herself more and become more confident with who she is, as well as develop her new found mysterious powers. She also had some really great badass moments of her own in this book.

I definitely feel like the women in this world are developed a lot better than the men! I feel like I properly know Iseult, Safi and Vivia now whereas Aeduan is still somewhat of a mystery to me.

Merik, I get a sense of who he is as a person, I just don’t massively like him! He’s really stubborn and gruff and he constantly misgenders Cam which wasn’t exactly endearing. I may be biased here though, as I really loved Cam, honestly Merik didn’t deserve such a great companion (and would have died without him).

The romances in this series are…..yeah pretty meh. I honestly don’t really see the chemistry between Aeduan and Iseult although maybe that’s because I still feel like we barely know Aeduan and it’s hard to get invested in a pairing when you feel like you don’t know who one of them is. Merik and Safi are apart for this whole book, but there seems to be a potential love triangle emerging here, which I’m not happy about, not because I love Merik, but more because I despise love triangles. It’s difficult to get on board with Safi and Caden anyway, since he keeps her captive for a lot of this book (which yes, I realise Merik did as well) and intends to return her to the Emperor of Cartorra.

I felt the character relationships in general in this book felt much flatter than in the first book, I guess because their storylines were largely separate and it didn’t feel like there was as much interplay between them.

I still really need more explanation when it comes to the worldbuilding! We get to see more places in the Witchlands in this book which is great, but I feel like I’m no clearer on all the different witcheries and the diferent relationships between the empires in the Witchlands.

The writing here was decent, though again I feel like I preferred the writing in the first book, though I’m not really sure why.

Ryber just sort of appeared from nowhere at the end, and I wasn’t really sure what happened there, though I guess things will become clearer in Sightwitch?

There was some LGBTQ+ rep in this book and some POC rep, which was largely decent, though like I said, I had some issues with the way Merik misgendered Cam throughout the book, as this book confirms that he is a trans boy.

The villains in this book were largely unseen, so it didn’t feel like the immediate stakes were massively high, even though the world is seemingly on the brink of war.

Overall, this book was a classic example of second book syndrome for me. It was slow paced, the constantly shifting perspectives were somewhat confusing and it didn’t feel like it advanced the overarching plot of the series all that much. I’m hoping that Sightwitch and Bloodwitch will be an improvement on this instalment!

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will be of Maggie Stiefvater’s, Call Down The Hawk, the first book in Ronan’s trilogy!