... in which Avry, a young healer, runs from bounty hunters, gets herself captured, falls in love, and faces an impossible choice.
This review is of a digital copy provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley.
Touch of Power follows the adventures of Avry, a 20-year-old woman with special healing abilities. Unfortunately for her, healers in her world have been hunted down and executed, since everyone else blames them for the plague that killed the majority of the population a few years earlier. One night, as Avry sits in a cell awaiting execution, a man named Kerrick breaks her out. The catch? Avry must travel with Kerrick to heal a prince, who is possibly the world's only chance for lasting peace. However, healers can't heal the plague like they can with ordinary diseases and injuries; the healer who takes the plague from another will sicken and die, and the man that Kerrick wants Avry to heal was partially responsible for the slaughter of all the healers Avry knew. As Avry travels with Kerrick, she must decide if she wants to save the prince, while also avoiding capture from bounty hunters.
I'm going to start this review by saying that I really, really enjoyed Maria V. Snyder's Study series, starting with the book Poison Study. I found those books to be quick, engaging reads with likeable characters and good writing, with enough creativity to distinguish them from other fantasy novels. I also enjoyed the follow-up series, the Glass books. So, I went into this book with pretty high expectations.
Touch of Power has a sympathetic main character in Avry, who is three-dimensional and complex. I liked her healing abilities, and I generally enjoyed the system of magic employed in this book (though it wasn't anything super original and groundbreaking). I liked the development of most of the secondary characters as well. The villains were mostly well developed, and the protagonists all had their own little quirks and flaws.
The plot of the book wasn't quite as engaging as the plot of the Study books, but it was interesting enough to keep my interest. Although I felt the pacing was a little off in some places, I was mostly looking forward to reading more of the book and seeing what happened. I liked the minor twists along the course of the book, though none of them were super surprising. The plot was also simple enough to make the book a fast read, while being complex enough to keep the book interesting.
Unfortunately, I found that the writing quality of this book wasn't quite as high as the quality in the Study books. As I said before, sometimes the pacing felt a little off, and some of the narrative didn't feel very smooth to me. The system of magic in the book wasn't explained as much as I'd like, and I felt that some of the characters could have had a little bit more back story.
I also don't tend to enjoy stories of young women falling in love with their rude, boorish captors. It worked for me in the Study books, possibly because Yelena and Valek felt more realistic as a couple to me. Kerrick never really felt like a love-interest kind of guy to me until the very end, so the romance angle never felt quite right to me.
I'm going to give this book a 4/5 stars, for a few reasons. Although I had my complaints about the book, I am glad I read it. Also, the plot developments toward the end added enough intrigue to make me want to read the sequels, so I think that counts as a success for Snyder.