“Paths do not come to you. You have to find them for yourself, and sometimes, you have to carve new ones entirely.”
Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…
Before Merik returned from the dead…
Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.
Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.
On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.
Anyone who knows me knows I love Susan Dennards Witchlands series. She’s one of those instabuy authors for me, which meant I pre-ordered Sightwitch so fast. I didn’t regret it one bit, either.
Sightwitch is a refreshing change from the main Witchlands series. Set prior to Truthwitch but best read after Windwitch, it is not a novel so much as a series of journal entries from the main character, Ryber Fortiza (and others…). The illustrations add a charming element to the highly personal feeling of the journal entries, and I loved it.
Really, what I loved most was Ryber.
Seriously, I ADORED her. There’s something about the stickler-for-the-rules-rebel-for-love character that brings me so much joy, and Ryber is that to a T, not to mention I’m over the moon to see a minor character from the core series fleshed out in full.
Ryber is incredible. Really, she is. She’s so dedicated to the Goddess, so hard-working and hopeful even when it hurts to hope. Not to mention that even when she takes matters into her own hands (and oh boy, does she ever have to!), she sticks to her principles. And yet, she grows, too. She learns flexibility, she learns to reconsider. There are new angles to her world, and she comes to find that those new angles matter. There’s not just one way to do things, not really.
I also really loved the slow unveiling of the Witchlands history. As someone who loves good worldbuilding, especially when a world’s history begins to figure prominently in its present, this book was a treat. The journal entries that are not from Ryber’s point of view are written by a major figure in Witchlands history, and they illuminate SO MUCH about the world and the forces that shaped it. Even better for me, relentless plot theorist in residence, they open as many questions as they answer, threading their way into the core series one by one.
I actually wrote down a list of theories because of how clever those journals are. Really, I did. And holy smokes, do I hope I’m right.
But with all good things, there are drawbacks. I took away a star for the middle portion of the book. It dragged a little here, entering what was a trial-by-trial dungeon crawl. Now, I play D&D. Currently, I’m my group’s DM, and that means I get dungeons. And I love them. But the dungeoneering felt a little drab and lacking in atmosphere save for in the key beats, and a convincing, exciting dungeon probably should not feel generic between its important scenes.
The other iffy part was the character encountered during that dungeon stretch. Do I love him? Yes. He’s charming in a dazed, awkward way, and I’m excited once again to see more of him outside of his role in the core series. Did I love his interactions with Ryber, though? Not a lot, because they felt very stilted to me, plus it set a very different tone for his relationship with Ryber than what exists in Truthwitch and beyond. The disconnect threw me for a loop, especially since there’s a year between Sightwitch and Truthwitch filled with interactions the reader can only guess at while trying to understand the shift in the nature of their relationship.
I was also disappointed that this character is set to have such a critical role going forward, but he spent so much of Sightwitch as a walking question mark, even to himself. I suppose this is because the Witchlands books will answer these questions in time, but until then, he feels as if he walked on-set and was simply written in even though no one really knew why he was there to begin with. He’s just not grounded in the story in a satisfactory way.
Ultimately, though, I loved Sightwitch. It functions so well as a series companion novella, providing that enticing extra content without being a required read to understand the rest of the series, and its use of journal entries rather than the 3rd person narration of the core series was an excellent way to set it apart as a unique addition.
So what did you see in Sightwitch, and what are you hoping to see in the Witchlands beyond? Have any strong thoughts on your favorite kind of witchery, or the best unusual beastie in the lands? Like a dragon of some sort, I hoard STRONG BOOKISH OPINIONS. Please fuel my hoard.