Review: Touch of Power, Maria V Snyder

Touch of PowerTitle: Touch of Power (Goodreads)
Author:  Maria V Snyder

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader – an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own – is unequivocal in his demands; Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince, the leader of a campaign against her people.

As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for.

Details

Series: Healer #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: Harlequin Teen, December 2011
Pages: 390

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

The blurb for Touch of Power sounds so awesome, and it has such glowing reviews from many trusted reviewers that I was sure I would love this book. Also, I’m a sucker for healer stories since I love to play healing characters in games whenever I can. I haven’t read any of Maria V Snyder’s other works so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I enjoyed reading it, but unfortunately, it didn’t blow me away. I’m having trouble coming up with the words to explain myself here so I’ll just break it down into what I did and didn’t like, à la Anya.

What I Liked

  • The magic system including herbology – There are eleven different types of magic, one of which is the healing power that Avry has. The other types are elemental magics such as fire, water or forest magic and it’s quite fascinating that there are so many permutations. There are also strange plants that kill some people while sparing others – I found the Peace/Death Lily parts fascinating and can’t wait to learn more about the plants of this world.
  • The storyline, past and present – The journey across the mountains to find and heal Prince Ryne has danger around every turn, and the non-stop action makes it difficult to put this book down.  The history of the plague and the realms is given in just enough detail that we know what has been happening by about half way through. It would have been nice to hear a little more about what went on at the school for the young realm leaders, but we hear enough to understand the enmity between them now.
  • The characters in general – Avry is snarky but is very giving with her healing abilities. As the story goes on she grows into her responsibility as the last healer alive, and makes tough choices along the way. I loved Kerrick’s gang as well – they were funny and loyal. There’s not a lot to them, but they make the story very entertaining.
US Cover

US Cover

What I didn’t like so much

  • The romance – While the romance was slow-burning, which I usually like in a story, there didn’t seem to be anything to bring Avry and Kerrick together. Kerrick spends most of the book being ice-cold and horrible to Avry, and she spends a lot of time being friends with the others but definitely not with him, no way, he’s a stone cold bastard, she hates him for sure, doesn’t she? Then at the end… well, I won’t spoil anything, but let’s say the romance didn’t do it for me. I actually felt at several points that Avry should get together with Belen instead – he seemed a much kinder and protective man!
  • Good/evil characters – Each of the characters were individually unique, but they were all either goodies or baddies. There was no ambiguity, they either were really nice people or just plain evil. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cold-hearted evil nasty baddie as much as the next person, but I think I like baddies to have some redeemable qualities or to think what they’re doing is the noble cause. The lack of grey areas gives the story a slightly fairy-tale feel and no-one has any deep, meaningful moments. In fact it’s all a little thin, as feelings go.
  • Some of the plot developments seemed odd to me. Why did Estrid just release Avry and the gang, with only Avry’s promise to return as an assurance? That seems slightly bonkers to me, especially since she originally wanted Avry to stay and heal her army. Also, killing off characters randomly – what’s with that?
  • Use of modern slang – Normally this doesn’t bother me since it makes the book feel more realistic (as much as a fantasy can be, anyway). In this case, I think it was the unfamiliar American slang that threw me – the innkeeper known as “Mom”, saying things are “just swell” in a sarcastic way, and others. While I know what those terms mean, they grated on my high-fantasy sensibilities a bit. I probably sound a bit stuck up saying that and it didn’t bother me that much, it was just something I noticed that bothered me a little!

Overall I did find Touch of Power an enjoyable read and I will be reading the second in this series, Scent of Magic, due for release December 18th (next week!).

Warnings: Some sexual scenes (not graphic).

 

Healer Series

Touch of PowerTouch of Power

Scent of MagicScent of Magic

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Taste of Death

(December 2013)

What did others think of Touch of Power?

  • “Touch of Power is very fast paced, and there’s action waiting behind every corner.” – 5 stars – Nina Reed
  • “I would strongly recommend Touch of Power to fans of fantasy with realistically strong female protagonists, and if you’re already a fan of Maria V. Snyder, don’t miss this one!” – 5 stars – Once Upon A Time
  • “Snyder expertly balances adventure, fantasy, drama and romance with interesting characters and a creatively imagined world for a wide audience.” – 4 stars – Book’d Out