Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Filed in 4 Stars , featured , Maria V. Snyder , Review , The Needy Lover Posted on December 5, 2012 @ 11:00 am 8 comments

Format Read: e-book provided by publisher
Length: 390 pages
Genre: fantasy
Series: Healer, #1
Release Date: December 20, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Formats Available: mass-market paperback, e-book
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Author’s Website

Book Blurb:

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life…

Read an excerpt from Touch of Power

My Thoughts:

It took all of about a paragraph or two for me to be hooked by this book. The plotting of this story is very sharp in the beginning, quickly setting up elements that are intended to play out at a more leisurely pace throughout the rest of the novel.

If you’ve read Maria V. Snyder’s Study series, you may find a few similarities that float to mind while reading Touch of Power. You’ve got a strong and capable yet doomed heroine with a unique ability; an antagonistic romantic intrigue; impossible choices with life and death; uncertain truths. And yet, I myself thought back to Poison Study only once or twice. Touch of Power‘s story, world, and characters…they all commanded attention to the point that any nominal similarities ceased to matter.

This story features a woman of 20 years of age…but this is not a Young Adult / New Adult novel. If fact, it becomes almost irrelevant what age and life phase the protagonist is in, as she’s lived to see so much pain, beauty, triumph, suffering. Avry has depth and believability factor. She’s immediately likable, immediately set up as someone a reader can root for and want to protect from harm and persecution.

Once again Snyder creates a great cast of characters, starting with Avry and continuing with her band of misfits. I found that, while reading the book, I wasn’t taking character notes as I typically do; I likened it to the fact that these personas were interesting enough to consistently keep me engaged, and memorable enough to stand out from a deep first-person narrative. That likeability factor easily applies to the group of “good guys.” And for better or worse, the “bad guys” have enough charisma to keep you either mildly conflicted or deeply disturbed.

Touch of Power‘s setting, though classifiable as that of a high fantasy (deservedly so), also feels somewhat post-apocalyptic. A faded world that’s only a shadow of what it used to be. It’s a fascinating place, the Fifteen Realms; surely Snyder has more unpublished material with more detail about it; there were so many little spaces in the tale that could have branched off into enough world building to fill numerous books. The Realms, politics, religions, magics. Lots of rules and structures that make this world feel like a carefully crafted creation. Personally, I feel the best world building is not necessarily the most detail-filled, but the one in which each detail feels deliberate and crucial to something–whether it’s something grandiose or something minor the reader will never come across in the finished novel.

I’m almost loathe to discuss the romance, because part of its magic is that is creeps upon you; you might catch the hallmarks of a budding romance early on (especially if you’re a big fan of the genre), but it’s not absolutely central to the tale. No, wait…it is a crucial element, but it’s not the point of the book. Still, it’s sweet, it’s alluring, and it’s fun to watch.

I do feel like this is a springboard book; that is to say, while it has many of its own merits (see everything written above), it’s deliberately only scratching the surface of an overall arc. For some, this may translate to the book seeming incomplete, unresolved, stopgap. And in truth, I did end the book with far more questions than I thought possible. But there is so much promise that the reader will be very much interested in the resolution of these amassed questions.

In Touch of Power, you’ll find many delicious dilemmas that grab your attention and keep you emotionally involved. Snyder is all about the storytelling odyssey;  the tale that prioritizes the protagonist’s growth in the context of an epic journey and world upheaval. I’m down with that…so my next steps? Read book two ASAP! 🙂

I give Touch of Power 4 Stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Alisha

Alisha, the bespectacled and ever nerdy California girl, simply won't leave home without a book in hand. She loves language learnin' and is working toward becoming a bonafide grammar ninja. On any given day you'll find her haunting local libraries or baking scores of cupcakes and sweet treats.

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Join the Discussion
  • draconismoi December 5, 2012 at 11:46 am

    This book got me in trouble when it was released last year.

    I’d been nagging a friend of mine to read Poison Study for YEARS because I knew shed love it. But she kept ignoring me.

    Then she gets a Kindle and casually asks me about that author I’d been telling her about. Touch of Power had just come out, so she read it. Bought and read the Study and Ice series, and then called to yell at me because there wasn’t an Avry sequel yet and CLEARLY it was my fault for recommending that she read an author who had a pitiful library of 7 excellent books to keep her busy all year.

    I’m a little afraid I am going to suffer similar wrath after book 2 comes out, because Maria seems to like writing her trilogies….

  • aurian December 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I did read Poison Study, and it did not do much for me, so I haven’t read the rest yet. Someday I will have the time 🙂

  • Mel S December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I’m half way through Scent of Magic at the moment and I’m loving the way some elements introduced in Touch of Magic have unfolded – there is definitely an unfolding story here. Plus I just adore Maria’s writing – you can just get lost in it so easily! Great review! 🙂

    • draconismoi December 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      But it hasn’t been released yet! Curses! Why didn’t I get an ARC?!

      • Mel S December 6, 2012 at 4:01 am

        Shh…don’t tell anyone but it is on Netgalley if you’re interested! I just finished it and it’s even better than the first book! 🙂

        • draconismoi December 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

          I am THERE. Right now. I can be 15 minutes late to work, right? Totally worth it.

          • draconismoi December 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm

            Netgalley rejected me. Sobsobsob. Guess I’ll have to wait until it’s released like everyone else.

  • JessS December 6, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Oddly I didn’t love this one, there were kinda WAY too many similarities to her other stuff, and I guess I just never really go into it.

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