“He was a man, just a man.
It would have to be enough.”
Fans of Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.
High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.
The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.
TW: death (parental, child, and animal included), gore, violence, graphic injury, torture, racism
Okay, so you know how pretty much everyone who’s already read Bloodwitch has been saying it’s the best Witchlands book yet? And that you’re not ready for it even after it’s punched you in the face with a bunch of feelings? And that you really should read it?
ALL TRUE. EVERY LAST WORD OF IT.
I went in a bit skeptical, because this is the book with Aeduan at its center, and Aeduan is not my favorite character. Still isn’t, technically (he’s gotta work realllll hard to unseat Vivia and Iseult from the top spots lol), BUT. I went into the book wary of him and came out the other side doing the unthinkable.
I now actually ship him with Iseult.
I KNOW, I KNOW. I’m usually so damn stubborn about shipping and so unwilling to change my mind, but this is the second time in this series that Sooz has taken something or someone I really disliked and developed the situation with so much nuance that I did a total 180 on my stance! It happened with Vivia, and now it’s happening with Aeduan/Iseult because IT’S SHIFTING TO EQUAL GROUND AND AN ACTUAL DESIRE TO BE NEAR ONE ANOTHER FOR THE SAKE OF SOMETHING OTHER THAN NECESSITY.
And without spoiling anything, because this is supposed to by and large be a spoiler free review: there’s battlefield angst. My one true weakness. I HAVE BEEN TARGETED AND I’M BOTH MAD AND DELIGHTED.
But stunning character revelations aside, Bloodwitch absolutely did not come to play. It chases the threads (ha, THREADS) of Merik and the Fury as they dance on Esme’s strings, follows Vivia’s quest for control and for the safety of Lovats, explores Safi’s role as a visible Truthwitch in the Marstoki court, and sees Iseult grappling with everything she has done and everything she could be. Not to mention, of course, Aeduan confronting his moral code and the paths that lie ahead of him. Every single character is faced with the most impossible choices as these plot threads start to converge, and none of them are easy, which only makes it more and more riveting. There a couple choices that actually had me nearly in tears, and in the last sixty pages, so many intense decisions were made that my notes devolved entirely into all caps WITH PAGE CITATIONS so I can go back and get stabbed in the heart all over again.
On top of the plot starting to converge, marking a huge turning point in the series (side note: I LOVE THAT THIS IS A LONG SERIES! I’M TIRED OF SHORT SERIES ATM!), the character development is aces through and through! Merik is Cam’s grouchy dad. Aeduan is now Owl’s vaguely grouchy dad, and Iseult is Owl’s definitely grouchy but totally reasonable mom. Safi is becoming more and more responsible without losing her impulsive touch. Vivia is shaking off her father’s towering shadow. Vaness is not nearly as cold and composed as she seems. Stix has a new foothold in the story, an anxious, powerful one that holds so much terrifying promise.
And I’d be ashamed if I didn’t mention the fact that the Viviness shipping opportunities are REAL and EXCELLENT in case you needed some sapphic royalty in your lives. Nothing explicitly canon yet, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t flirting I saw… 👀
I HAVEN’T EVEN TALKED ABOUT THEORIES YET, THOUGH. And I’m saving those for a special blog post, but I can say here that certain things have been confirmed to shocking and delightful effect, but even more questions have been raised, and true to her word, Sooz has structured a story where there’s not a singular, clear-cut villain. There are antagonists, sure, but there are so many chess pieces on the board that it’s hard to say exactly where the series is headed, though the path is narrowing dangerously. Bloodwitch really does top the previous books in terms of how well-plotted it is, how meticulous every character and every choice weave together.
All in all, I need the next book the instant it comes out, and while I’m willing to wait for a book that’s somehow even better than this, I can also feel my impatience brewing because it’s JUST THAT GOOD. I have never wanted MORE from a series in my life and yet been so satisfied with what I have.
Pick up the Witchlands series and get to Bloodwitch ASAP. You won’t regret it. Cross my heart.