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Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder – review
As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomaniacal 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 confidant, 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.
What I Expected: I wasn’t hugely enamored of the first book of this series, Touch of Power, but it was likeable, mostly for the main character and her mini band of cohorts. So, I expected all of those characters to come back in this second book for another round of ‘let’s not let our countries be devoured by the evil genius’ and that there would be all sorts of healer cleverness and tactical supremacy.
What I got: I didn’t really get what I expected. All of the secondary characters that made the first book enjoyable are gone. They are off doing their own thing and have minimal face time in this story. The main character seems a bit ineffectual, and the reader is just waiting along with her until something happens. The secondary POV from Kerrick in this one is just odd. It felt like it could have been the main story but there wasn’t enough emphasis on it to put it in prominance, so the two conflicting POVs sort of just bobbled along together waiting for something to happen. There just didn’t seem to be enough logical flow to the story, which made it choppy and difficult to be pulled in to.
What I enjoyed: I really liked that Avry was able to pass on the knowledge she learned from Kerrick and his men to the advantage of the army.
What I did not: After reading the first book I was a bit disappointed in the shallowness of the story around the Peace and Death lilies. It felt illogical to me that the last healer would stumble upon such important information by chance when the plants had been studied by many people over many years. This time around it just felt even more so. I was also very sad to see all the lovely and likeable characters from the first book run off elsewhere and be scarcely visible in this one. The newer secondary characters weren’t awful, just not what I was expecting. The evil bad guy? He’s an idiot. A genius. An idiot. The characterization just kept wobbling back and forth on that. He’d be really clever and then he’d do something completely idiotic. He felt like a plot puppet, just nodding his head whenever prodded. I also felt an odd disconnect between the last book and the first as this story seemed to start up immediately after the first, but then the reader finds out that a lot more time passed than it seemed. It made me feel as if I was missing something. Where did the time go? What happened?
Cover Talk: Meh. Too YA-romantic-saga-looking for me. And that is over and above the fact that the flowers needed to be large enough to engulf a man in their petals. So, it just doesn’t work. It is pretty but really doesn’t tell me anything about the story or the atmosphere, and if I were buying the book based on the title and cover, I’d have skipped over it.
Recommend? I wouldn’t really recommend this to anyone unless they read the first and fell in love with it. I know there are people out there who have, and if you fit this description, please run out and buy this one too. With all of its flaws, I still found it entertaining – mostly because I really enjoyed the main character.