Witherward (Witherward #1) by Hannah Matthewson

My Five Word TL:DR Review – I thoroughly enjoyed this one

WitherwardThe thing is, I’m quite a lot less inclined to pick up YA these days.  In fairness I’m not the target audience and more often than not I find myself coming away from them with more questions than answers.  Witherward was such a lovely surprise, the world building was impressive, the plot kept me hooked and I enjoyed the characters.  On top of which there is a very low key romance that is simmering away.  Yeah, I had a good time with this one.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s anything groundbreaking here and it has something of a ‘chosen one’ trope but there are some lovely refreshing elements, good writing,strong foundations and a number of twists.

This is a world with two Londons. One quite hidden and accessed via portals, known as Witherward, where all sorts of magic and supernatural elements exist. The other London – the one we, the readers, are familiar with – is known as Otherworld  Witherward has a number of different factions.  On the face of it they exist amicably, well, mostly.   Changelings are exactly what they sound like- they can shift into virtually any animal, bird or even a different person providing their magic is strong enough and they can hold the image in their mind. The other factions are Wraiths, Whisperers, Oracles, Sorcerers, and Psi – each with their own particular strengths.  There is an accord between the factions to keep them in line, they each inhabit particular areas but the Changelings are relatively new and at this point, not entirely accepted. So, for the purposes of this story we follow the Changelings as they withstand various conspiracies.

Ilsa is a Changer who has lived in the Otherworld for as long as she can remember. Initially at an orphanage until the cruel treatment she received eventually forced her to run away and carve out a life on the streets. As the story begins Ilsa is taken, ripped from everything she has ever known and taken to Witherward. From there, everything she has ever known is turned upside down,  Amongst strangers she discovers a whole new world full of possibilities that she never imagined, although this is of course tinged with constant threats to life and limb.

What did I enjoy about this? Such a lot.  The world building is really well done.  Admittedly, there is a lot to take on board initially but it’s all really well grounded with history and emotions that run deep.  I liked the characters. Ilsa is easy to like. She’s not perfect by a long stretch of the imagination but she is resourceful and independent. I also liked a number of the other characters and it felt very easy to get on board with them.  I enjoyed the way that we discover things along with Ilsa. It felt natural and unforced.  I liked the dialogue that came across easy to read and natural.  The plot was intriguing and there were a number of twists.

Overall this makes a great start to series. We have something of an enemies to love interest ‘thing’ going on which is enticing and well paced and actually was quite unique in the direction it eventually takes and is a definite draw in terms of book 2 (which I’m really looking forward to given how this one ends).

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have anything.  This was a really enjoyable read for me that quite outdid itself in terms of my expectations for YA.  I feel like I’m perhaps not giving this as glowing a review as I would like – so, for the avoidance of doubt, this was great.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Witherward (Witherward #1) by Hannah Mathewson

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Witheard (Witherward #1) by Hannah Mathewsonand here’s why:

Witherward

Welcome to the Witherward, and to a London that is not quite like our own. Here, it’s summertime in February, the Underground is a cavern of wonders and magic fills the streets. But this London is a city divided, split between six rival magical factions, each with their own extraordinary talents – and the alpha of the Changelings, Gedeon Ravenswood, has gone rogue, threatening the fragile accords that have held London together for decades.

Ilsa is a shapeshifting Changeling who has spent the first 17 years of her life marooned in the wrong London, where real magic is reviled as the devil’s work. Abandoned at birth, she has scratched out a living first as a pickpocket and then as a stage magician’s assistant, dazzling audiences by secretly using her Changeling talents to perform impossible illusions. When she’s dragged through a portal into the Witherward, Ilsa finally feels like she belongs.

But her new home is on the brink of civil war, and Ilsa is pulled into the fray. The only way to save London is to track down Gedeon, and he just so happens to be Ilsa’s long-lost brother, one of the last surviving members of the family who stranded her in the wrong world. Beset by enemies on all sides, surrounded by supposed Changeling allies wearing faces that may not be their own, Ilsa must use all the tricks up her sleeve simply to stay alive.

SIX OF CROWS meets THE PRESTIGE in a debut YA/crossover fantasy set in an alternate Victorian London, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab.

Expected publication : February 2021