Scent of Magic (Healer #2) — Maria V. Snyder

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Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible…again.

At the end of Touch of Power, Avry and Kerrick were forced to separate. In Scent of Magic, we pick up with Avry infiltrating Estrid’s army and Kerrick returning to Alga to finally deal with his own country. The separation is brutal. The two were finally together, only to be immediately torn apart. While Kerrick readies his troops and seeks allies for battle against Tohon’s army, Avry prepares Estrid’s troops by teaching them how to move silently through the forest and how to kill Tohon’s dead soldiers. Keeping her identity a secret becomes impossible when she’s reunited with Prince Ryne, Quain, Loren, and Belen. When Tohon finally mounts his attack, he once again comes for Avry and, again, she finds herself alone.

Let me start off by saying I thoroughly loved and enjoyed Scent of Magic; it’s an excellent sequel. With that in mind, I had difficulty with the first third of the book. I think the difficulty stemmed from Avry’s separation from Kerrick. I just wanted the two to be together and my frustration mirrored Avry’s on every page. This only proves how excellent Maria Snyder is at creating characters we care about and relationships that jump off the page. But the frustration was very tough to deal with and often led me to put down the book after a few chapters, just to pick it up again in an hour.

After I got used to the separation, I was impressed by a lot of the elements Snyder incorporated into this book. The plot is continuously fast-paced; each chapter advances the conflict. The plot is intricate and completely unpredictable, with multiple cliff-hangers that forced me to speed through the pages. I especially appreciated the inside look at war strategies and tactics. Watching Avry become a part of Estrid’s group was one of my favorite aspects of this book; she’s so tough and willing to put herself in the line of danger over and over again. In my opinion, she’s one of the most admirable female heroines in YA right now.

I also enjoyed seeing Kerrick take on more of a role as King of Alga. It’s interesting to watch his relationship grow with Danny, as we get to see more of the kind, caring Kerrick that previously only existed with Avry. Speaking of developments, we also see new sides of Quain and Loren, which just further characterizes them as realistic, believable people. All of Snyder’s characters feel like people you could potentially or already have met. They’re just so vibrant.

Of course, Snyder once again delivers a fair share of heartbreak, but she doesn’t wait until the very end to do it. This book is full of a lot of hard moments and Snyder doesn’t sugarcoat the consequences of war. Tohon is as frightening and despicable as ever–a true villain. Snyder further explores the mystery of the Death and Peace Lilies with surprising results–this aspect of the plot never fails to completely capture my attention; I’m completely enthralled by the Death Lilies and, like Avry, I really want to figure them out. As with her previous novels, Snyder’s writing is poetic, concise, and utterly enrapturing. The Healer series is just as compelling as her Study series and worth every minute spent reading. Fans of Snyder will not be disappointed.

Pages: 414
Publication Date: December 2012
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Source: NetGalley
Rating [rating: 4]

Teaser Quote:
“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.”