Touch of Power (Healer Series #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: LUNA/Dec. 2011
Kind thanks to Harlequin for providing a review copy
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, 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—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. Because the price of peace may well be her life….
I love, love, love Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study (and her Inside Out) series, so was very excited to hear about her new book, Touch of Power, featuring 20 year old Avry, a healer on the run from those that would have her executed because of her power. After healing a child in the town she’s hiding out in, she’s arrested and sent to the guillotine, but rescued by a band of men that value her power. It doesn’t seem to make much sense that people would want to execute a healer, does it? No, it doesn’t, however, healers are thought to the be the cause of a plague that has decimated the human population, to the tune of about 6 million dead. That is why they want to execute healers. However, there are certain people in power that would love to have a healer at their disposal, so there is also a significant bounty on Avry’s head. So, Avry goes on the run with the mysterious (and initially annoying) Kerrick, and his group of friends, and that’s when the story really takes off.
See, Kerrick and Co. want her to heal someone, but this someone is a person that Avry doesn’t have that great of an opinion of (to say the least), but who may hold the key to peace, so convincing her he’s worth healing will be hard. Rival mercs and bounty hunters are around every corner, and that’s not counting the deadly Death Lillies that litter the valley, but there’s more to those than meets the eye too. Ms. Snyder has a talent for storytelling, and she manages to do it very well without a lot of the flowery prose that you see in fantasy novels. I love that, and she really has a knack for getting you to turn the pages. Avry reminded me a little of Yelena in Poison Study, but she’s definitely very much her own woman. There’s plenty of action and intrigue, and some twists that I honestly didn’t see coming, also a bit of romance. Ms. Snyder’s baddies are bad (with maybe a touch of gray, but just a touch), and her good guys are really good. This is so refreshing for me, amongst the dark fantasy full of gray characters. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some gray, but sometimes a story with a really strong glimmer of hope is much needed! Also, I believe Touch of Power is aimed at adults, but other than some violence and a bit of gore (and sex references, but , but no details-Avery is 20 after all), I really think teens would enjoy it as well. It’s a great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors, and I’ll look forward to continuing Avery’s adventures in Scent of Magic in 2013 (yarg, but all good things, right?)