TOUCH OF POWER (Healer #1)
by Maria V Snyder

RELEASE DATE: 20 December 2011
FORMAT: Paperback, 390 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy

Avry’s power to heal the sick should earn her respect in the plague-torn land of Kazan. Instead she is feared. Her kind are blamed for the horrifying disease that has taken hold of the nation. When Avry uses her forbidden magic to save a dying child, she faces the guillotine. Until a dark, mysterious man rescues her from her prison cell. His people need Avry’s magic to save their dying prince. The very prince who first unleashed the plague on Kazan.

Saving the prince is certain to kill Avry – yet she already faces a violent death. Now she must choose – use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause? (Goodreads)


A virulent plague has ravaged the land and the healers have been blamed for its spread. Avry makes the choice of whether to stay hidden and safe or to save a child who is suffering from the plague. This one decision will change the course of her life . On the run and in hiding for three years Avry exposes her talents by saving the child and she winds up being captured and set to be executed despite what she had done for the child and its family. On the eve of her execution she is rescued by the moody stranger Kerrick of Alga.  He isn’t saving her out of a sense of justice but rather he wants something from Avry. Kerrick wants Avry to heal Prince Ryne of Ivdel Realm who she believes is responsible for the spread of the plague and the death of her family. Kerrick has Ryne hidden and placed in a magical form of statis but is desperate for him to be cured. Despite her beliefs of Ryne’s treachery Avry agrees to go with Kerrick and begins a journey not just across the kingdom but on one of self discovery.

Avry doesn’t realise how alone in the world she really is until she learns she is the last healer left alive in the kingdom. She knows that her father and two brothers are dead at hands of Prince Ryne  and her mother, sister and remaining brother are lost to her.  Finding out that that her mentor and the other healers are dead,  as well come as a blow.  As the last healer she is also Kerrick’s last hope of seeing the Prince Ryne cured and on the throne. Kerrick believes that Ryne is the only one that can save the Fifteen Realms from falling further into anarchy. Kerrick isn’t very nice to Avry at the start of the story as he tries to convince her to cure the Prince but she almost immediately bonds with the other men in the party especially the former thief Flea and Belen the second in command.

Through the journey we learn how Kerrick and his men came together and why it was important that Ryne survives. We also learn why Avry thinks that Ryne is the reason why the plague is spread and her discovery of the real origins of the plague. Avry goes closer, not only to the other men in the group but also to Kerrick despite her decision not to heal Ryne. Kerrick’s magical abilities create a bond between the pair and they grow closer and closer as the journey progresses and as as they rely on each others talents to survive. On their travels Avry also makes a shocking discovery and finds that all her family may not be lost to her.

The journey through the land is arduous not just because of the terrain and weather but also because not everyone wants Ryne to be saved so the group are in constant pursuit. A power struggle between the kingdoms has left them fighting amongst themselves with Tohon of Sogra using an army of the dead to try to gain supremacy. Can Avry reach Ryne in time to save him to tip the balance? Will Avry sacrifice herself to rid Ryne of the plague? Can she stop Togon and his zombie army  in time? Will Avry and Kerrick overcome their initial mistrust of each other and let more than their magical attraction grow?  Well I’m not going to tell so you will have to read it for yourself.

Touch of Power had all the elements of a great story with a strong heroine who doesn’t spend the whole novel swooning over the handsome hero, friendship and loyalty, an ultra creepy baddie and a fight worth fighting for. Combine this with Synder’s ability to create a richly detailed world and strong characterisation we have a novel that is a page turner from the first few pages.  The book seems to float along until Avry and the men reach Ryne and Avry is left hands in the nefarious Togon. The action heats up at this point and culminates in rather a dramatic end all within a few chapters. There is quite a bit I have left out like the significance of the death lilies, Avry’s missing family member, the origins of the cure. I would have to practically re-write the book in this review and then you wouldn’t need to read it!  Suffice to say that Snyder wraps everything up tidily at the end with a good lead into the next book. I am really looking forward to book two and I hope that Snyder continues to improve on the foundations of a great plot and likeable characters.


I was immediately gripped by Touch of Power and thought it was a compelling read. Avry was strong and smart making her a credible heroine. Snyder spent time making a world rich in detail and with magic as a complement to the plot rather than taking it over. Despite the fact this was YA Snyder didn’t pull any punches about killing characters off if it was true to the story. There was also enough of the plot wrapped up to feel satisfied yet enough left for the future books of the series which I am looking forward to. If you are fan of fantasy or YA then I urge you to get Touch of Power on your TBR.


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  1. Touch of Power
  2. Scent of Magic
  3. Taste of Death (2013)




A displaced Canadian living in the UK who when not reading is often found trawling through GoodReads looking for something to read or buying another book on Amazon. [Melanie no longer reviews for the site.]


Laura February 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Ooh I really want to read this. I thoroughly enjoyed her Magician’s Apprentice trilogy – this series looks great! 😀


Bobby February 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I have this and the sequel – both bought just after they came out – and haven’t read either of them yet. I’ve heard all good things though, so I should really get to reading them – and the hundreds of other books on my TBR. They are the perfect books to buy purely for decoration though – the covers are lovely.


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