Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) 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…
Thoughts: I had seen other books of the author’s that sounded interesting but that I hadn’t been able to read yet, and had heard good things about what she has written, and so when the chance came to read Touch of Power, I eagerly pounced. I’d sad to say that this was not the greatest introduction to Snyder’s work, and I sincerely hope that her other books are better.
The premise itself was fairly creative. The world has been decimated by a plague, and people ironically blamed Healers for starting that plague in the first place. Avry is the last Healer, on the run and trying to keep her identity hidden. She is found, however, by a band of men who abduct her and demand that she Heal their prince of the plague. Avry isn’t fond of this idea. As her journey progresses, we get to see more of the world and the cultures that have been carefully created to be interesting and with enough parallels to our own world that we can relate the the situation that Avry finds herself in.
Healers themselves are done quite interestingly here, too. Rather than merely curing an illness or injury, a Healer takes the problem upon themselves and then heals at an accelerated rate. Some thing do prove too much for them to handle, though, and they bear the scars of injuries healed, sicknesses cured. It’s an interesting form of sacrifice that intrigued me.
So the plot itself wasn’t where I found this book lacking. Rather, it was in the writing itself. Snyder writes mature themes into the story, such as swearing, lust, sex, bloody vengeance, all that stuff, while her writing reads like it was written for younger teens rather than older ones who might better relate to the subject matter. As the book is written from Avry’s perspective, any mysteries encountered are slowly revealed by way of Avry thinking questions at herself and pondering things, not so much hinting sometimes as beating the reader over the head with the answer without ever actually coming to that answer. It does the reader a disservice, assuming that they can’t see half of what’s coming.
Subtle foreshadowing is almost nonexistant. As an example, later in the book Avry comes across a man who doesn’t seem to like her very much, is short of patience, acts a quite secretive about some things, and yet is supposed to be on her side as he aids her in infiltrating the enemy city. At this point in the book, the fact that this man doesn’t instantly like Avry is sign enough that he’s a turncoat, because everybody else seems to show an instant trust and liking to her when they’re good guys, and any bad guys seen at that point have either tried to use her in some way or else made it plain that they disliked her. The execution of the story was too simplistic and at odds with the more mature aspects of the story, making for a few odd read. I honestly had trouble telling what age range this book was intended for. The writing hinted at younger teens, the themes and plot hinted at older teens to adults.
Sadly, this actually turned me away from giving the author’s other books a chance. It was a poor introduction to her work, which is a shame because there was so much potential in the story and I hated to see it executed the way it was. I can’t say I’d recommend this book, mostly because I can’t tell who I’d even be recommending it to. There’d be problems either way.
(Book provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.)