[Advance Book Review] A healer on the run, an army on the march.

Scent of Magic by Maria V Snyder (Healer #2)

Publication date: December 18th 2012

(This review may contain spoilers of book one, Touch of Magic by Maria V. Snyder.)

After reading Touch of Magic (has it really been a year?) and stamping it with a Five-Canary approval rating, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. And here it is!

Avry of Kazan, the last Healer in all of the Fifteen Realms, is dead of the plague, sacrificing her life to heal the man who destroyed her people…or so everyone thinks. Finally free and able to make her own decisions, Avry’s loyalty is torn between the need to help a sister in the clutches of a vicious mage, her own calling as a Healer, and the need to do her part against the tyrannical King Tohon and his ravaging army. And if she is to do all this, she must part ways with Kerrick, so soon after finding him again.

After all the burned bridges of Touch of Magic, this second installment in the series takes on the theme of reconciliation. Avry takes dramatic risks to reconnect with her long-lost little sister while Heir-to-the-Throne Prince Kerrick returns home after over three years of being MIA and faces a family that had to make some very hard decisions for the survival of the kingdom. There is less romance (if you don’t count Avry and Kerrick pining for each other), and more lies, intrigue, and adventure.

While the official back blurb is correct that Avry and Kerrick part ways early in the book, the good news (or bad news, depending) is that we don’t actually lose sight of Kerrick; half the novel is written from his point of view, shifting from Avry’s first person to Kerrick’s third person whenever we visit Kerrick. I won’t say much about the Kerrick storyline, except for this spoiler: in a delightful scene full of righteous karma, Kerrick gets captured by the northern tribes and tied to a tree.

I did end up knocking a couple canaries off the branch for this novel, though. At times, the story struggles to navigate the consequences of the ambitious set-up of the first novel: Prince Ryne is alive and on a warpath, Tohon is marching forth with his unstoppable army, Avry’s sister hates her, Avry’s allies think she’s dead, and her enemies are clever and many. There is the mystery of how Tohon is creating his army, what the toxic, deadly Lilies truly are, and whether one healer’s efforts can make a difference against overwhelming odds. And that’s not even counting all the things that happen to Kerrick while he’s off adventuring heaven knows where.

Reaction to the ending.

While the first book is about Avry, this novel zooms out and paints a more panoramic story scope. Scent of Magic adds a dash of “Epic” into the “Teen Fantasy Adventure” genre mix of its predecessor, as well as an extra point of view to cover all of the story’s many plot and subplots. This both broadens the story, and, for me, dilutes it.

Snyder makes up for it in a small way by playing up the uncertainty and tension when it comes to the characters and their decisions; When betrayals come, they are almost always a real surprise.

The ending doesn’t disappoint either, and the last two pages had a cliffhanger that had me staring at the page, saying, “Oh no you didn’t.

It involves Kerrick.

Prepare yourself, o reader.

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Review copy courtesy of Harlequin MIRA.

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