Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Series: Healer, Book 2
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
“We don’t take orders from you, Sergeant,” Quain said. “Your man tried to assassinate-“
“He isn’t mine. My man has eyes that change color with the seasons.”
While I enjoyed this story overall, it suffered a bit from “second book syndrome”. That is to say, it did not hold my attention or intrigue as well as the first book, Touch of Power. It was a bit hard to get into the flow of the story and even some of the later scenes seemed to drag on a bit. I understand that this book is more of a setup for the third book in the trilogy more than anything, but a second book shouldn’t feel like a bridge in the story. It should be able to hold its own. While I still enjoyed the read, I found my mind wandering at times.
Coming from Touch of Power where we only needed to follow one Point Of View, or POV, it was a little discombobulating trying to keep track of multiple POVs at the start of this book. After the first couple of switches it got easier for me to reprogram my brain and fall into the corresponding plot-line but the first couple of switches had me having to consciously remember what was happening to that specific character. Once I was used to this switch back and forth, I found myself enjoying being able to follow a character other than Avery and being able to experience a different part of the world.
That being said, it was a tad annoying that almost every switch and chapter ended on a cliffhanger. While an enjoyable read, it was hard to find a moment to put the book down that wasn’t a complete cliffhanger. While I understand the use of mid-book cliffhangers to keep the reader in the world, it’s still nice to have a couple of proper stopping points for things like getting food or going to the washroom.
Thankfully, Snyder did an amazing job at continuing to grow the world which, in my opinion, made up for most of the things I could find issue with. Being able to describe the scenery in a way that doesn’t detract from the story but rather adds to it is a tough skill for authors to master. Having stumbled across this problem while reading Curio, Snyder’s proficiency in this skill is even more apparent.
I would still recommend this series to anyone who’s interested in unique magic systems. Sure, this book might be slow at times but overall it’s an entertaining read.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this read was how raw Snyder is able to make peoples’ emotions feel. Avery thought Kerrick was dead not once, not twice, but three times in Scent of Magic and every time the pain seemed just as fresh, just as real. When Danny found out that Avery was alive even though Kerrick had told everyone that she was dead, the shock and relief and pure joy he was feeling practically jumped right off the page. Avery thinking that Noelle had once again betrayed her by leading her to Jael and her troops was almost tangible in the scene.
I also enjoyed how Snyder made Avery’s thought process seem nature instead of making her an all powerful hero that is simply able to figure everything out. It took her explaining everything that had happened to Prince Ryne in order for Avery to realize she needed to start collecting the death lilies’ toxin sacks. And even then she wasn’t sure what she would be doing with them. Ursan used his dying breath to warn Avery that the whole area reeked of the buried dead, but it wasn’t until after the noose had been sprung that she managed to put the pieces of his warning together.
Sure, Avery had all of the clues at her disposal but she felt more like a real person by struggling to fit all of the pieces together. What with the war and everything going on, this made her character more realistic. What kind of person would be able to train soldiers, heal the injured, try to make up with her sister and explain she never abandoned her, try to understand why the death lilies wanted her to have their toxin, and then try to solve a bunch of mysteries all by herself. Oh, while at the same time believing that the person she loves most of all is dead.
It was also great that Avery was oblivious to the interest from the others around her. Ursan, for instance, made his interest in her pretty obvious but not once did Avery realize. Heck, when he found out she was in love with someone else his response was “lucky guy”. Avery was so oblivious that even though she spent a lot of time with Ursan and he was willing to keep her secrets, she still had no idea that a crush could be Ursan’s motivation.
Speaking of Avery’s love life, my heart breaks for her knowing that after thinking Kerrick has died multiple times, and finally realizing he’s alive and well, it’s someone she considered to be a friend that ended up “killing” him off. (Let’s be honest, if Avery was allowed to get brought back to life there’s a chance that Kerrick will be in Taste of Darkness as well). Sure, Avery tried to suck out all the Death Lily toxin from his wound, but we all know it didn’t work out in their favour.
Now, the Death and Peace Lilies are an interesting part of the story. Trying to understand the complexities of their relationship to each other made my head spin at the start. Eventually I was able to understand them as two separate beings – as Avery does – which made them more than just a convenient plot device. Of course, looking at the way both life and death magic impacts the lilies continues to make this complicated… while at the same time clearing things up.
Finding out that the Peace Lilies can only help people who have, or have the potential for, magic in their blood was heartbreaking when Noelle died. I can only imagine how shitty it is to think you have a way to save the sister who only just forgave you and decided not to try to kill you and for this plan to not work out for you. I know it’s a war, but it really did seem like Avery couldn’t catch a break in this book.
I have to admit, Wynn was becoming a character I loved. Sure, she’s still a pretty dynamic character by the end of the story but I no longer have warm feelings for her. I could say that all the warm feelings have been switched on their head, but she hasn’t done enough for me to actually decide I hate her now. I’m hoping that she’ll have an arc of her own in Taste of Darkness, otherwise her going after Kerrick is a convenient plot device more than anything. Selena being her sister can be useful to the progression of the story, but only if it’s utilized properly.
Finally, I loved the fact that Flea was able to be reintroduced to the story. As one of my favourite characters in this world, I couldn’t help but smile when the Peace Lily dropped him from its grasp. Of course, him showing signs of magic – like bringing Quain on of stasis – was a huge bonus. Understanding that the lilies only go after people with [the potential for] magic made the lily going after Flea in Touch of Power make sense. I have to say, the fact that Flea was able to break Quain out of stasis proves not only does he have magic, but he’s only the second death mage to be alive at the moment. The only death mage fighting for freedom, too.
I’d really like to know how the lilies decide who goes after which person. We assume that it was a Death Lily that went for Flea in Touch of Power, but this scene occurred before Avery knew how to tell the lilies apart. Do Death Lilies go after the living with magic or the potential for it while Peace Lilies only go after the recently deceased (plus Avery)? Or do both types of lilies go after living humans? I know this isn’t a question that’s relevant to the plot of the story, but it’s the kind of background information I’m always curious about.
Other reviews from the series:
- Touch of Power, Book 1