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Book Reviews

Review: “Scent of Magic,” Maria V. Snyder

May 6, 2016
Review: “Scent of Magic,” Maria V. SnyderScent of Magic (Healer #2)
Written by Maria V. Snyder
Published December, 2012 by Mira
414 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Purchase: The Book DepositoryBookworldBooktopia
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five-stars

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.

It’s with genuine enjoyment that I’m finally reading the complete Healer series by Maria V. Snyder. Having loved the first one, Touch of Power, back when it was released, I remember eagerly awaiting the second instalment, Scent of Magic. However, life got in the way (as it does) and TBR piles grew (as they do) and I, sadly, didn’t keep up with the series as it was released. Years later, I’m remedying that, and I couldn’t be more impressed!

 “You had me tied in knots. You saved Belen’s life, and I wanted to kill and thank you all at the same time. And during those nights when we didn’t know if you’d live or die, I went from being angry, to worried to frustrated to scared all within a single heartbeat. If you had die, I would have killed you.”
– Kerrick

A re-read of Touch of Power was needed before I settled into its sequel. I was struck once again at how artfully Maria V. Snyder crafts her characters. From the very first page I was sympathetic to our main character, Avry, and her beliefs. Also impressive was the scope of the Fifteen Realms, and how Maria V. Snyder managed to keep such a large world feeling so simplistic. Basically eating the book in one night, I was just as enthusiastic as I was years ago to read Scent of Magic.

The second book picks up pretty much where Touch of Power left us. Immediately we are thrust back into the world of the Fifteen Realms and the war that is waging five years after a deadly plague wiped out most of the population. With equal parts magic and romance, it’s hard not to fall in love with the series. I really enjoy the magic system that’s been crafted, as well as the different and unconventional ways the powers are wielded. Just when you think you know everything, new things reveal themselves and wind into the plot.

 “He isn’t mine. My man has eyes that change color with the seasons.”
– Avry

I can understand how, for some, the plot became ‘all over the place’. There are many different threads working together, with new ones introducing themselves all the time. The skeleton king? The northern tribes? Nothing about the Healer series is straightforward. However, instead of being put-off, I found myself enjoying watching everything play out and unravel. Maria V. Snyder manages to balance handfuls of storylines in a way that promises to be relevant in the end. I’ve only read a few of her books, but I have managed to develop a certain trust for the author that I don’t find I have for the majority of others.

Yes, the Healer series is slow-paced, but I find I’m never bored. Somehow I can’t tear my eyes away, even when it’s three o’clock in the morning. I HAVE to keep reading, and that’s something that’s becoming rarer and rarer for this jaded book blogger. The pace may be slow, but there’s oodles of character development and creeping suspense that somehow makes it all worth it.

As can be expected, there are a tonne of new characters that work themselves into Scent of Magic. While I questioned Avry’s decision to leave her rag-tag group of guys in this one, I think some ‘alone time’ for her really helped her grow. It also gave us a chance to learn more about the other occupants of the Realms, including Estrid’s followers.

Ursan flourished the knife, threatening me. “Talk, or I’ll start cutting off body parts.”
“Yours? Or mine?” I kept my voice steady despite my insides twisting into goo. “It’s an important distinction.”

While Touch of Power was more ‘journey’ focused, Scent of Magic was more military. Avry spends the majority of the book working in the army camps belonging to Estrid, both undercover as Irina and then as herself. We also get some chapters from Kerrick’s point of view, which was new and unexpected. Kerrick’s POV focuses on the threat of the northern tribes, and while initially I was like ‘aw, no’ I really came to like their integration into the story. I think it’s quite promising where the fight against Tohon is concerned.

Everything I Liked about the first book was back in the second: the death/peace lily mystery, Avry’s connection to the two young maybe-healers Danny and Zila and the mystery surrounding the plague. As far as second books go, I thought it was a great one. We got more emphasis on the core material, as well as expanding the world and the plot.

But what I would really love to see in this series is some more ‘focus’ on the different kingdoms. What makes them different from one another? Do they provide different things to the realms as a whole? I would like to see some individuality; whether it be customs, traditions or even the way they look. I think we’ve only gleaned the surface of this in the way of world-building, and although there is only one book to go, I hope I get a little more.

I can’t wait to see what Taste of Darkness holds for Avry and the gang. I’m absolutely loving my experience reading this series and it’s a breath of fresh air not wanting to rush through something I’m ‘meh’ about in order to get to another book on my TBR pile.

If you’re after a new fantasy series you can sit back and take your time with, I really suggest you give this one a go. Maria V. Snyder has become one of the standout ‘fantasy’ YA authors and there’s a reason for that. Believe me, I’m slapping myself for not reading more of her work sooner.

About Maria V. Snyder

Meteorologist turned novelist, Maria V Snyder began writing fantasy and science fiction since she was bored at work and needed something creative to do. A dozen novels and numerous short stories later, Maria's learned a thing or three about writing. She’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a half-dozen awards, and has earned her MA degree in Writing from Seton Hill University where she's been happily sharing her knowledge with the current crop of MFA students.

6 Comments

  • Reply Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity May 20, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I haven’t actually read the last book in this series, either! Even though I rushed out to buy it on release date. I keep say I am saving it for a rainy day when there haven’t been any Maria V. Snyder books to read for a while, haha XD

    I’m so glad that you liked this one as much as you did when you first read it! I cannot wait to read the first two books in this series again when I decide to read the last book. I remember absolutely loving them.

    And I totally agree with you about the trust in Maria V. Snyder. I never feel like I’m being let down, or that things are happening just as a plot device or anything like that. When I read one of her books I KNOW I am going to be happy with it, and that its going to be good. I only have one other author I feel that way about.

    I hope you love the last book in the series, Brittany!
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  • Reply Joy @ Thoughts By J May 7, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve only read Poison Study so far, and while I liked it, I’m not quite sure why I never continued the series. And now I’ve forgotten everything eep! I can’t keep up with all the different series’ that Snyder has written…do they overlap?! Are they set in the same world…all the confusion! Glad that despite the slow pace and multiple storylines, you managed to enjoy the book thoroughly Britt. I’ve heard nothing but praise for Snyder, hoping to pick up one of her books again soon. :)
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  • Reply Cait @ Paper Fury May 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Can I just say I LOVE how you format your reviews?! It’s beautiful and I adore how you do the quotes!! EEEEP. ANYWAY. I’ve only read the first book so far and it honestly didn’t grab me. Maybe I need to keep going with it though?!? I’m always on the lookout for good fantasy series to binge, hehe.
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books May 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Aww, thank you, Cait <3! I'm so glad you like the formatting. It took me a while to get something I was happy with ! :D
      Wow I did read your review and I was surprised TOUCH OF POWER wasn't up your alley. I really loved it, so the second book for me was no different! If you give it another go, let me know if your thoughts change :D I am really adoring my Maria V Snyder binge at the moment.

  • Reply Angelya May 6, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I loved this series when I read it, although I wasn’t quite so impressed with the way the trilogy ended. It made me want to go back and read all of her books set in this world, though! I hadn’t realised there were so many of them :) Great review!
    Angelya recently posted…Wrap-up: April 2016My Profile

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