Okay, I'm sold. I'm sold on these books. Each one just keeps getting better and better—I'm actually not sure where to go from here, since there are apparently going to be two more books and I'm already at five stars with this one—and I now, officially, love this series. I'm extremely displeased that, after reading the first three books in the span of four months, I'm now going to have to wait a whole year for the fourth, and two years for the fifth. Unacceptable.
[Note: Some of my remarks will be building on my other reviews for this series. They can be found on Goodreads, where I am Rach H. Also, the version of this review that is on Goodreads is more complete—this site doesn't allow me to hide spoilers within a review, so I removed all spoilery references completely, here.]
First, let's talk about the characters. My likability ratio has shifted once again, from 4:1 to 4:2:0, with that middle value added to include a neutral/transitional category. The fact that I no longer actively dislike any of the POV characters is, of course, a very good sign. Now, Iseult and Aeduan continue to be both awesome in their own right and awesome as a pair, so I don't have much to say about them except that they both grow in this book and it's really wonderful to see. Vivia, my darling dearest favorite, is also awesome, and had to overcome so much and be so, so strong in this book. Safi continues to improve, which I'm very pleased about, and it's not just because of the company she keeps—there is a huge moment of growth for her in this book, when she finally becomes an incredibly strong and interesting character and begins to drive her own narrative, so I actually think I really truly like her now! Even Merik grew on me a lot, because, like Safi, he himself grew—I'd say now that, while I haven't come all the way around to liking him yet, I am rooting for him, and I'll probably officially like him partway through the next book. Finally, we introduced another POV character, Vivia's friend Stix, and I'm a bit conflicted about her: I like her as a character, and I liked her when we saw her through Vivia's eyes in Windwitch, but I don't like the choice to add her as a POV character, because she has like five chapters in the whole book and they really don't add to the story.
The best part about this installment was that all the characters had really significant journeys in it—journeys that changed them. They all grew. I was so proud of all of them by the end! They're all so strong and vulnerable, flawed and trying so hard. I'm rooting for all of them.
Anyway, beyond the six MCs, some new and interesting side characters were introduced, and many old side characters were reintroduced—I'm really excited about this, because three of them (and a fourth who I suspect has been present at the edges of the narrative for the entire series so far, but still hasn't technically made a new appearance) were some of the characters that I found most intriguing in Truthwitch. I'm SUPER DUPER excited to see more of them in the next two books.
A brief note on ships—there are SO many and I'm SO excited about 99.99% of them. (I'm excited about literally every single one other than Safi/Merik, which I still despise with every fiber of my being. This installment gave me both worries that Safi/Merik is endgame and hope that it is not.) New love interests have been introduced for a number of characters who already had love interests, and I'm conflicted in some cases but not at all mad about it. I ship a lot of things. It's very exciting.
The plot of this series continues to thicken—some things actually did wrap up in this book, but they were just making way for a billion new mysteries to spring up, and there was at least one REALLY BIG twist that I almost predicted—almost, but not quite. (I'm impressed, Ms. Dennard, with your ability to make me feel so close to having all the pieces but not quite close enough to actually put them together, so that the moment of revelation is such an incredible rush of understanding that it's actually exhilarating.) A lot of serious themes are growing in this story, as well: There's quite a bit of emphasis placed on issues not being black and white; the previous hints of racism come to the forefront with both a discussion of cultural sensitivity and a genocidal movement; one character has to fight against sexism and a very strong glass ceiling; political corruption is rampant; someone has to come to terms with a lifetime of being gaslit by a parent... The list goes on. You know how, in my my first review for this series, I said that Truthwitch was like candy? Bloodwitch isn't candy. It's just about a full meal.