Written by Maria V. Snyder
Published December, 2013 by Mira
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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Powerful healer Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought a plague and survived. She took on corrupt King Tohon and defeated him. But now her true love, Kerrick, is missing and Avry fears he’s gone forever.
Yet she faces a more immediate – and deadly – threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With the territories’ armies in disarray and the dead not staying dead, Avry’s powers are needed now more than ever.
Torn between love and loyalty, she must choose her path carefully. For the future of Avry’s world depends on her decision…
Taste of Darkness was a solid continuation of Avry and Kerrick’s tale in the world of the Fifteen Realms. While I wasn’t exactly stoked with how things ended, or thrilled with the pacing in this one, I couldn’t help but still ‘like’ the book. Though it’s my least favourite of the series, I still had fun reading it! Spoilers in the full review.
“You have my heart, my soul, my life. I’m an empty shell without you.”
Taste of Darkness is ‘more of the same’ where the Healer series is concerned. Expect nothing new in the third instalment. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, avid fans of the series like me will surely enjoy what it has to offer – but on the other hand, people who had been wanting more from the series will be sorely disappointed. Sure we have the incredibly lovable cast of characters and villains back doing what they do best, but does Taste of Darkness really bring anything new to the table? Not really.
There’s more sneaky tactics, more moving around the infirmary, more vanishing ‘are they dead?’ acts by members of the gang. It can get a little tiring, but somehow Maria V. Snyder manages to keep you invested. I genuinely wanted to know how things would come to a close and this was good enough reason for me to keep reading. The slow pace of Taste of Darkness meant, however, that I didn’t finish this one as quickly as I did with the others in the series. For some reason I wasn’t able to keep reading it for long periods of time.
With Tohon out of the game, things have been shaken up in the war. With troops scattered, there’s the arrival of the Skeleton King (which I thought was rather out of nowhere considering this is the FINAL book) and the threat of a new strand of the plague. There’s also the question of the fate of Kerrick – which doesn’t get answered until a few chapters in.
“But they fight in the name of the creator.”
“I don’t care if they fight in the name of broccoli. The goal remains the same.”
With so much going on, it didn’t feel like a finale book. Around the middle of it, there was a huge rescue attempt at Chinska Mare which was thrilling, but also made me wonder ‘So just when is this all wrapping up?’ There seemed to be no end in sight for Avry and her guys and this meant that I started to lose faith in the fact that we would be getting a satisfying ending to the saga.
The strong point of this series were the characters and their friendships with one another. I really enjoyed the dynamics of the group as well as Avry and Kerrick’s devotion to one another, despite their rocky start. That being said, I had to roll my eyes every time Avry and Kerrick snuck off to have ‘private time’ in the middle of time-sensitive situations. Another boon for this series was the magic system, which I thought was incredibly unique and interesting. I would have liked to find out more about it – particularly what was inside that book of Ryne’s – but for the most part, questions were neatly answered for me.
“Hey, what about me?” Quain asked.
“You’re second best, as always,” Loren said.
The ending was way too simple for my tastes. Yes, there was a pretty awesome plan where Tohon was concerned, but Avry’s survival (AGAIN) by Peace Lily and the Skeleton King’s off-page demise was just a little too convenient. It seemed like everything was neatly wrapped up in the space of ten pages and I couldn’t help but feel a little robbed. What about Estrid? Was she content to just live in Chinska Mare forever, unpunished for enslaving all those young women? How did Zila get captured and how is it that Ryne’s brother and grandmother were unharmed? What will happen to Cellina?
I think that this series could have possibly been four books, with the Skeleton King being the main foe of the third and the thwarting of Tohon the fourth. However, disappointment aside, Taste of Darkness was still a great read and proved that Maria V. Snyder is one of the masters of YA high fantasy.