Review: Scent of Magic

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Scent of MagicScent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Healer #2
Published by Harlequin MIRA on December 18, 2012
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 414
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Hunted, Killed—Survived?

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.

First Sentence: “‘I’m dead,’ I said to Kerrick.”

Touch of Power ranked among my very favorite books I read last year. Needless to say, I wanted Scent of Magic like my cat wants deli meat. With such high expectations, it’s perhaps not surprising that the book fell a bit short. This is definitely not her best book, but still ensnared me. Scent of Magic may not be as beloved to me as the first book in the series, but there’s plenty of action and powerful women.

One of the best thing about reading Snyder books is that they will always be chock full of incredibly strong, sassy women. Avry, the heroine, of course, has healing powers, which can also be used to fight, in addition to being well-trained with weapons. On top of that, she’s incredibly bright and willing to do just about anything to help friends, and almost as much to help people she does not even know. What I love about her is how little vanity she has; at one point, she offers to heal a friend’s facial injury to save her from the scars, even though then Avry would have to bear them instead. She also prefers practical clothing to beautiful dresses.

However, Avry’s not the only strong woman in the book. Jael and Celline are varying degrees of bad guys, but are incredibly powerful. Even better, women fight in the armies of this world and can even rise to positions of authority. Women like Leah and Wynn do not have any powers to aid them, but they still kick so much butt. A lot of novels have strong heroines, but, in order to emphasize her uniqueness, otherwise contain only meek female characters.

Snyder also gets the villain just right. Tohon ranks pretty high up on the list of villains that horrify me. He has insanely powerful magic, which he can use to make zombies and to make Avry weak in the knees (I did not like what happened with that at all btw). Aside from that, he’s crazy. He goes from friendly to murderous in no time; his moods are unpredictable. Not only that but Tohon’s the brilliant kind of crazy: he pretty much equals Ryne for military strategy. Basically, he’s terrifying because it’s very easy to imagine him winning.

Sadly, I didn’t feel the same love for this installment as the previous. I think a lot of that had to do with the separation of Kerrick and Avry. At the end of the first chapter, Kerrick and Avry part ways to accomplish different things in the war against Tohon.  One of my favorite things about Touch of Power was the dynamic between the two of them, which obviously can’t happen if they’re not together. Plus, now that they’re a couple, they don’t have the same sexy banter that they did before even when they’re together.

The other issue with the two of them being apart for most of the novel is that Snyder changed the narrative style. All of Touch of Power was from Aery’s first person perspective, even when the group separated from what I recall. In this one, Snyder added relatively brief chapters from Kerrick’s perspective. Avry’s perspective remains in first person, but Kerrick’s bits are in third person limited. This device might have worked better for me had his sections been counted as chapters (only Avry’s are numbered, while his are headed merely Kerrick) and been written in first person as well.

These next couple of points will reference spoilers, though without specifics. While I love these characters and want them all to survive, you guys know how much I appreciate an author that will make their characters really suffer. Snyder can do this, I know she can, but she doesn’t exhibit that ruthlessness here. Everyone freaking kept coming back to life! It’s to the point of absurdity. Sure, a few people Avry cares about dies, but the main characters can apparently not be killed. That really lessens the impact of the plot.

Despite those issues, I was still debating between 3.5 and 4 for the rating, since I did really enjoy the book and get caught up in it. The deciding factor ended up being the ending. The fact that she ended this installment on the exact same cliffhanger as book one makes me want to throw all the things. Avry and Kerrick are once again united and temporarily safe, but one of them might die of a disease! Oh noes! Goddammit! Obviously neither of them is going to die permanently, so why even bother? Plus, this is so incredibly redundant. I hate everything about the ending.

In spite of everything, I did still quite enjoy reading Scent of Magic and will be eagerly awaiting book three, and really anything Maria V. Snyder chooses to write. I need to find time to read her first series, because I’ve heard it is worlds better than this one, which I like a lot.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Weapon of choice?’
I glanced at her belt. She wore a sword on her right hip and a dagger on her left.
‘I don’t need anything.’
She gestured to me. ‘That stiletto won’t be enough to defend yourself.
I brandished a couple of my throwing knived. ‘How about these?’
Thea shrugged. ‘They’re only good if you know how to use them.’
Aiming for the center post, I buried four in a neat row.
‘That’s handy.’
‘Keeps the gentleman callers away.'”

4 responses to “Review: Scent of Magic”

  1. I think I’ll be looking forward to this book, Christina! I kind of disliked Kerrick in book #1, so I’m totally fine with them both separate from each other for awhile 🙂 Awesome review as usual!

  2. Hah hah, do you feed your cats deli meat? Or do they just sneak it from your plate?

    I thought we’d had a POISON STUDY discussion on GoodReads recently, am I crazy? Oh no, that was INCARCERON. Never mind me…

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one overall, even though it sounds like it has that dreaded “middle book syndrome” thing. I understand that in a trilogy you have to keep the story going somehow, but so often book two feels as though the work in book one is undone.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • Christina says:

      Ha, I really don’t like to eat fat at all, so I give him any fatty bits. He LOVES it.

      Ooh, no, we didn’t. Incarceron. *shakes head*

      Lots of important stuff does happen, but I found it frustrating that the couple was in the exact same place. I don’t know that I would label most of it middle book syndrome. She just made some questionable choices.

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