Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Series: Healer, Book 1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Romance
“You can really get under his skin. This has been a most interesting trip. I can’t wait to see what else happens.” (Chapter 7, Belen).
One of the things I love about Snyder’s writing is how organic she makes her magic systems feel. They’re not these fully fleshed out systems where every person in the world knows what’s what. Instead, they’re written in such a way as to explain most of how magic works but to still leave the reader with questions. To me, this makes the magic system feel more real.
Another thing that I love about Snyder’s writing is her ability to make her characters feel real. They’re not perfect – they make mistakes and have insecurities. They’re not always able to perfectly read situations or the people around them. Heck, sometimes they’re not able to follow their own rationale or feelings. As this is the way people really act and feel, reading about it makes it easier for me to get immersed into the story.
Both of these writing skills can be found in Touch of Power. Snyder beautifully writes about imperfect characters in a war-torn world and their journey to their individual end goals. While the fact that the characters don’t have the same end goal can sometimes cause tension and downright fighting between the main cast, in the end it showcases everyone as individuals and allows them to grow and make their own mistakes.
While this story isn’t your typical “romance” story, I do still find the romance within it adorable. If anything, this story has the trope of enemies becoming lovers so if that’s something you don’t like… I’d still suggest giving this book a try. There is so much more in this story that is worth any dislike for the trope that someone might have.
My favourite part of this story might just be the growth that Avry goes through in order to understand not only her powers and the world better but also her own morals. Who is she willing to sacrifice herself for? Who’s sickness or injuries will she deem worthy? Is it really Avry’s place to determine these things for others? Or is she making the choices for herself? What does it really mean to be a healer?
The answers to these questions and more can be found within Snyder’s pages. They might not be the most obvious answers, but if you look hard enough they’re there. And I’ve got to tell you, the journey is well worth the results.
As this was my second read through of the story, I knew that Flea wasn’t going to make it. Still, that didn’t stop my eyes from watering when Jael murders him in cold blood. While I was happy that everyone else got away, Flea has always been my favourite character in this story. He, out of everyone that was there, deserved to die the least. I don’t think I’ll ever not be impacted by Flea’s death.
Speaking of Flea, I enjoyed how much love and dedication he put into learning how to juggle. Sure he threw a stink about having to practice and how tedious practicing could be, but he was just a kid. Even most adults complain about how tedious things can get. At least Flea continued to practice because it was something he wanted to learn to do – it wasn’t something he was being forced to do against his will.
The moment we meet Kerrick I knew he was going to play out the trope of really mean dude that the main character slowly starts to thaw and falls in love with. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. Both the trope and the relationship met my expectations and left me smiling. Yes, this was my second read through of the book but I still remember the feeling of meeting Kerrick for the first time. There was no way someone that acted so self entitled was going to end up anything but by the end of this story.
The fact that Avry mistakenly thought that Kerrick knew healing Prince Ryne would kill her was the basis of her hatred for him. It was Kerrick’s determination to find a healer no matter what the cost mixed with his stony expression and Avry’s distrust of the whole situation that led Avry to this conclusion. The fact that he was adamant that she heal Prince Ryne no matter what only furthered Avry’s resolve not to – and the fact that Kerrick must know what the outcome would be but he was too heartless to care. After all, he hit her and then said that healing Prince Ryne was the only thing that mattered.
I enjoyed the fact that it was Belen who got both Avry and Kerrick thinking about the other in a different light. He certainly saw that they were starting to have feelings for the other before they did. Heck, one of my favourite Belen moments might just be when he tells Avry she’s the only one that can get under Kerrick’s skin. He knew what that meant but also realized that Avry wasn’t ready to hear the truth. But that’s just part of his papa bear charm.
The fact that Belen threatens Kerrick – the person he’s supposed to be the bodyguard for – if he so much as looks at Avry funny just goes to show how much of a papa bear he really is. He welcomes Avry to the fold quickly and is the first one to actually start trusting her. After Flea, Belen and Avry’s relationship might just be my favourite of the story.
When Avry saves Flea from the death lily, I remembered the feeling of my stomach dropping as I thought Flea was going to die then. It’d been so many stories ago that I’d read Touch of Power for the first time that I experienced the same sense of dread this time around. Of course, Jael ended up being the one to kill Flea when she tried to kill the whole crew but Avry and Kerrick thwarted her. I know she’s not supposed to be the most evil person in this world, but sometimes she feels like she is.
Of course Avry tries to heal Flea even though he’s dead. When her magic doesn’t respond, she manages to convince the guys to bring his body to a death lily as his resting place since they couldn’t bury him or give him a funeral pyre.
When someone later jokingly says that they should feed the dead mercenaries to the lilies, Avry surprises herself by saying they don’t deserve the honour. She hadn’t yet made the connection between the death lilies and the plague or the healers so I can see how this information would have been shocking.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about this story is Kerrick complaining about how his men never disobeyed his orders before Avry came into the picture. While he first says this in a way that indicates he dislikes their trust in her, by the end of the book Kerrick means that she made their little crew so much better.
Avry reminded Kerrick what it was to actually live. After Jael played with his heart and then stomped on it, Kerrick must have closed himself off more than he already had. There was no way he was going to easily let people into his life when the person he loved most was able to so easily betray him. Of course, Avry isn’t an easy person.
While it was both beautiful and heartbreaking to read, Avry and Kerrick admitting their love to each other while she’s dying after healing Prince Ryne was something I loved getting the chance to witness. It wasn’t until it was done that Avry finally realize that Kerrick hadn’t known she was going to die. He didn’t realize why she was so adamant about not healing Prince Ryne even though his actions made it seem as if he’d known all along. Poor Kerrick and Avry, they could have been together much sooner if that misunderstanding hadn’t happened at all.
Part of me wonders if Avry is the root of these misunderstandings. Don’t get me wrong, Kerrick certainly made it seem as if he didn’t care if Avry died once she’d healed Prince Ryne. But Kerrick wasn’t the only one that Avry had issues communicating with.
Poor Noelle thought that her sister had abandoned her and their family to die of the plague. Avry was so caught up in her own world – which seems to happen a lot to her – that she didn’t even notice when her family’s letters stopped showing up. Noelle was so young when the plague hit that it’s no wonder she blamed Avry for what happened to her family. While I don’t like it, I fully understand why Noelle found someone else to look up to – someone who appears strong and steadfast in her convictions. Of course, I wish this someone wasn’t Jael.
Speaking of pure evil, Tohon is one messed up dude. Not only does he begin with killing all the healers in the lands, he then starts trying to make his own by testing death lily poison on children. Children. If that’s not pure evil, I don’t know what is.
If this isn’t enough to convince you of Tohon’s wicked ways, let’s talk about his use of his powers on Avry. Sure it’s gross that he uses his life magic when they first meet to make her willing to be in the same room as his undead. But what I think is the most gross is the fact that Tohon uses his magic to basically force himself on her. I don’t care who you are. DO NOT force yourself on anyone. Sure maybe some healers in the past enjoyed Tohon’s magical influence when they did stuff together, but these were willing participants. Avry was very clear that she was not willing to do things with Tohon. No means no, end of discussion. And, while we’re on the subject, a person can say no at any time. Consent can be taken after it has been given. No always means no.
There is so much still left to be done in this world, so many lives to save and wars to end. If you’ve read Touch of Power, I’d love to know your thoughts on it. Have you finished the series yet, or are you just working your way through it now?