December 6, 2013

REVIEW: Taste of Darkness (Healer #3)

Taste of Darkness (Healer #3), by Maria V. Snyder
To Be Published December 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
e-galley, obtained from Edelweiss
Adult fantasy
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  3.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.

Cannibals, misogynists and plagues - oh my! Once more, Maria Snyder has weaved a tale of intrigue, mystery, suspense and love in the final book in her Healer series. 

Avry's, Kerrick's and their friends' lives are in danger as both the nasty Skeleton King and the evil Tohon are trying to conquer their world and subsequently turn them into either dinner or worm food. Then the plague that decimated so many of their world's population resurfaces to complicate matters even more. They must pool their resources and abilities to defeat them both and keep everyone they care about safe.

I'm not sure what it was, but I wasn't quite feeling the magic in Taste of Darkness. Quite literally. The magic was what made this series so unique and awesome from the start. Kerrick's forest magic, Avry's healing magic, Noak's ice magic, Flea's death magic and Tohon's life magic was what drew me in. The world that Maria created is fascinating. Add in the peace and death lilies and their properties, and you have all the ingredients for a fantastical, interesting story with ribbons of romance woven throughout. 

For some reason, though, the focus in Taste of Darkness wasn't really on the magic, but rather on military tactics, strategy and subterfuge. I missed the parts that make Maria's books wonderful - magic and mysticism. I would've loved a lot more about Avry's, Kerrick's, Flea's and Noak's magic, how it's all interconnected and what exactly they all could do with it instead of whose forces were moving in from the west to cut off the other forces looping around from the south. Prince Rhyne, Tohon, Cellina and the Skeleton King are all pieces on this chess board, and we spent so much time hearing about what they were all planning to do with their troops, that I felt a little bereft. 
Despite that, I still love Avry and her spunk and ability to piss off every male she works with, yet endear them to her so that they'd lay their lives down for her. Her relationship with Kerrick is so sweet and supportive. And, as in previous books, the side characters of Loren, Quain, Flea, Belen and Ryden were very nicely fleshed out and so easy to love. 

There were a few action-packed scenes, and I loved those. Seeing Kerrick demonstrate how he uses his forest magic to turn the tide and how Avry's come to use her passive healing touch to bring down her adversaries were the best parts.    

The series comes to a nice and satisfying close at the end, and even though I had issues with the plot, I'm still glad I read Taste of Darkness and look forward to adding it to my bookshelf when it hits stores later this month.

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