Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: 3.75/5 stars Taste of Darkness.jpg

Pages: 400

Series: Healer, Book 3

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance

 

As the final novel in the Healer series, it’s time to say goodbye to this colourful cast of characters and their unique magic skills. While I enjoyed my time with them, every good thing must come to an end.

I enjoyed living in this world for the last little while, but even I can admit that there were things in the world that were a little too convenient. I’m glad that I got to spend some time with Avery and the grew, but I’m okay with that time being over.

Overall, this book does a good job at wrapping up the series. It takes care of everything it needs to, though I will admit the ending was a little weak. The ending is why I can’t rate this story any higher than I did. Even still, I would recommend this series if you’re looking for a “lighthearted” war story in a very magical world.

*Spoilers ahead*

“Realm of Peace”. I’m sorry, out of all the things you could have called Sogra realm after Tohon’s death that’s what you decide to go with? I’m sorry, as much as the sentiment is cute, having this be the name of your realm, and to end the book on this note, is a little weak. You could have come up with literally anything as the realm’s name. I mean, even going with “Peace” is a different language would have been better. Still not good, but better than just calling it “Realm of Peace”.

With that mini rant out of the way, I did enjoy the story overall. Sure, Avery made a bunch of dumb moves again, but if she hadn’t then she wouldn’t have been staying true to her character. And while it was annoying that the men in her life continued to use her as bait and not telling her their plans, it made sense that they would do this. Ryne knew about her connection to Tohon even if he’d been telling Avery it was only dreams. Kerrick realized what was happening soon enough to use Avery’s memories as a tool to lead Tohon into their final trap, but it still feels gross knowing the person you trust the most in the world is going to be willing to use you like that.

And, yes, the enemies were killed one after another pretty easily. Wynn was dealt with, Seb frozen, the Skeleton King infected, and Tohon beheaded. The crew systematically worked their way through their list of enemies and won the war.

So what I’m saying is: Yes, the plot was a little too convenient at times. But that’s not why I enjoyed the ride so much.

What I really enjoyed about this series was the characters and their interactions with each other. From the very beginning of Touch of Power to the very end of Taste of Darkness Snyder was able to give her characters so much depth and growth.

Avery started out as a pretty flat character, being the last healer alive and not really living. She refused to heal Prince Ryne even though she felt like she didn’t really have anything to live for.

Kerrick started out as a stubborn hardass… and ended a stubborn hardass. But there was growth in him. He realized that he couldn’t always bully people to do what he wanted them to. He learned to better trust the people around him, to know that the people he loves are capable. He learned that it wasn’t a weakness to rely on others but a different kind of strength.

Flea might have had the most growth of all. He grew into a magician – a death magician or one touched by Autumn, depending on who you ask. He learned what it was like to face death and come out stronger, even if it did take him a while to come to terms with it. He learned how to accept his magic, not hate it, and how it could be used for good. And he realized that the people who looked up to weren’t infallible – Avery might be an overprotective mother hen but she also had a tendency to push too hard and Kerrick coddled his men only when he wasn’t pushing them too hard.

Yes, I could go on and on about the different characters – Belen, Prince Ryne, the monkeys, etc – but I think you get the point. It was the characters that Snyder wrote and how they interacted with the world that I found so enjoyable.

I do think that the story would have been more interesting if Kerrick were to actually have died at the end of Scent of Magic, but I can understand why Snyder wouldn’t want to kill him off for good. He was a convenient plot device with his forest magic and a leading force in the story. It would have been a lot harder for the crew to do what they managed to do without Kerrick’s help, and it would have been difficult for Snyder to try and replace him so late in the series.

Even still – just think about how things would have been if Avery had ended up with Prince Ryne instead. They didn’t get along when they first met even though Avery gave up her life to save his. It took them a long time to actually start trusting each other, but they were finally able to get on the same page about things. Ryne was able to talk to Avery in a way Kerrick never really could. He was able to convince Avery that sometimes it was best that she doesn’t know everything. There was a reason he was in charge of their army and not her, and she finally started to understand that she wasn’t cut out for the whole war council thing even though she was trying her hardest. More importantly, Ryne was able to secure Avery’s trust and her respect.

As Ryne told Kerrick, she’d started to move on after his disappearance. It wasn’t easy for her but Avery was starting to realize that life went on.

Even Odd was overprotective when it can to Avery. Sure, Ursan was more obvious in his affections for Avery, but it was the little things that Odd did which made me think there was more to his feelings than just friendship. He didn’t want Kerrick to get close to Avery again because he knew how much it broke her to think he could be dead. Sure, it could be because he felt the same heartbreak with Wynn, but I truly believe that there was more to it than that.

And, of course, I loved Avery’s interactions with the lilies. The Peace Lily entity was willing to help Avery understand how to stop the second plague and ask that in return it be left alone. Of course Avery assented, though Kerrick did take her back to a Peace Lily when she “died” with Tohon. I doubt the Peace Lily entity had a problem with helping Avery one last time. After all, she was practically family.

The fact that the Death Lily entity was always willing to help Avery, to give up its sacks and talk to her whenever she got near, made me smile. If it weren’t for these lilies, there’s no telling what would have happened to this world. Besides, I think they were just happy that Avery – or anybody, really – was willing to interact with them without fear. Yes fear was a great tool at times, but I bet that would be an extremely lonely existence.

Can I just say how creepy that magical bond could really be?

 


 

While I’ve enjoyed Snyder’s works enough to have read 9 of her books, I can’t help but think that her other world and plot that I’ve read was better written. Her Poison series carries many of the same characteristics of the Healer series, such as a badass female protagonist and a strategist who’s unwilling to share his plan.

Have you read any of Snyder’s other works? If so, which one was your favourite? What moment made you think ‘this one’s for me’ – or, conversely, ‘this isn’t my taste after all’?

If you have any general thought about the Healer series, or any of Snyder’s other works, I’d love to hear about it.

 


 

Other reviews in this series:

  1. Touch of Power (Book 1)
  2. Scent of Magic (Book 2)

One thought on “Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder

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