I have been a fan of Maria V. Snyder’s work for a while now, so imagine my excitement when I discovered the first book in her new Healers series, Touch of Power. My joy wasn’t in vain; the book was Snyder’s best yet and issues in a stunning new series filled with magic and mystery.
Avry is a healer; she has the ability to take others’ illnesses and injuries and bring them into her own body. Her ability to heal ten times faster than regular folk allows her to do this with minimum inconvenience (most of the time!). Once respected for their skills, healers are now hunted because of a plague that couldn’t be stopped. People blame the healers, and now Avry’s on the run for her life.
She’s captured after being revealed for what she is when she healed a little girl. Awaiting death, she didn’t expect a rescue, but before she can really register what happened Avry’s on the run with men who have been looking for her for years. She’s the last healer alive, and they need her to heal a prince (who is in a magical stasis to freeze the progression of the illness) that can unite the kingdoms that were torn apart from the plague. The only problem is that this prince is known to be an evil, horrible man, and the last thing she wants to do is make him better. Add to this the fact that healing him means her death, as he is one of the last plague victims, and Avry is truly in a hard place. They won’t let her escape, and as they traverse the Nine Mountains, avoid mercenaries, and try to survive other magical dangers she has to decide what’s worth living for – and dying for.
I loved this book. It reminded me of her first series in the best way possible. The main character has a special power, goes on a journey, and falls in love. The magical elements are so creative too, unlike anything I’ve seen. Large evil lilies that eat people after injecting special venom! Healers who take the pain into themselves because they heal ten times faster! There were many other elements that, even though I’m sure they’ve been written before, felt new and fresh to my eyes. That was a gift as a reader, and it kept me captivated.
The more I read, the more I am discovering the elements of stories that capture me the most. One of them is the journey. So much of Touch of Power is the main characters traveling, and though at first that might sound boring, it is quite the opposite. Characters shoved into dangerous situations and who are living in close quarters bond in ways that aren’t achieved in normal situations. It is fascinating to watch, and I love seeing how their interactions will change and grow. The journey elements of this story were so perfect. So much was revealed as Avry interacted with the other main characters, and yet, because it was in first person, I also got a ton of insight into her personal dilemmas. There was a perfect balance.
It was also a nice break from YA. It was still a read that was on the lighter side, but the typical angst and juvenile personal growth that is present in most YA novels was given a booster shot. Avry’s problems felt real, even if they were magic-related, and she struggles with truly adult issues.
Though I’ve read a lot of great books lately, it’s been a while since one of them kept me up into the wee hours. I wanted to keep reading this book so badly that I woke in the morning with my e-reader on my pillow and my glasses askew on my face. I read literally until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was that good, that captivating. I cannot wait for the next book; this is one of those series that I will be devouring repeatedly over the years!