Touch of Power (Book 1 of the Healer Series)
Maria V. Snyder
Damn. This entire review can be summed up in that one word because once again, Snyder has built a world of vibrant colors with characters that walk and talk like real Human Beings and she did it in a way that appears to be effortless. Damn. I have been completely swept away by this story. At one point, while reading it, someone was talking to me from a foot away and I was so thoroughly enthralled in the story that I didn’t even notice they were there. The characters are both fantastical and wonderfully human at the same time and the world she created, it’s stunning. Huge lilies that eat people, magicians (though few) are freaking everywhere, and once again a heroine who won my heart utterly.
Blurb from the Publisher:
THEY DESTROYED HER WORLD.BUT SHE’S THEIR ONLY HOPE…Avry’s power to heal the sick should earn her respect in the plague-torn land of Kazan. Instead she is feared. Her kind are blamed for the horrifying disease that has taken hold of the nation. When Avry uses her forbidden magic to save a dying child, she faces the guillotine. Until a dark, mysterious man rescues her from her prison cell. His people need Avry’s magic to save their dying prince. The very prince who first unleashed the plague on Kazan. Saving the prince is certain to kill Avry – yet she already faces a violent death. Now she must choose – use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause?
This is how romance within fantasy should be done. Snyder’s done it before in the Study series (I haven’t read the other series, but put the first book in both series on hold at the library today because I need more). She creates two people who are sometimes literally killing themselves for the safety of those around them and allows them to fall in love in extreme circumstances, but she does it in a way that feels so very natural. When romance is done in this way, holy hand grenades, I love it. It’s not smarmy or saccharine. It’s effortless and genuine.
Can I just say how much I love the way Snyder writes her characters? It’s not just that they become real people. It’s that they become real people that I want to meet and become friends with. I would happily have helped Avry and her band of merry men if I happened upon them in real life and that’s saying something for an introvert. Snyder builds these smile-inducing families to support her leading characters and they are the kind of family you want to spend your holidays with. Nothing dysfunctional here, just a group of people who have learned that they can trust each other even to the death. It’s heartwarming and quite a welcome sight after the holiday season.
Layered on top of that is Avry. Snyder builds these women who are what we should all strive to become. They are proud and loyal and tough and brave. They fight so hard for what they believe in. It’s a breath of fresh air in this day and age. Avry is remarkable and brilliant. I was going to write, “I think my favorite thing about her is…” but then I’d have to pick just one thing. I love that when provided an escape from death by guillotine she goes with it, willingly. Who wouldn’t? I love that even though she’s plunked down in the middle of a massive conflict within her country, she somehow figures out how to play each situation in exactly the right way. I have trouble saying hello to people sometimes without going all awkward. Avry talked to the leaders of every side of the conflict and comes out ahead every time. It’s incredible. I wish I had half her wherewithal.
In the end, the story is a fantastic read. The tension will never let up and it’s only further heightened by the characters that will win your heart. Snyder once again delivers a story that I found to be impossible to put down.
5 ink bottles.