Touch of Power

Touch of Power - Maria V. Snyder Please, Sir. May I have some more?Touch of Power may be mildly similar to Poison Study which does bring in an element of predictability but it doesn’t feel repetitive. This world is far larger and more complex than that of the Study trilogy. Avry has been in hiding and on the run for 3 years and she's tired of it. After people blamed the spread of the plague on healers, they're captured and executed whenever they're found. However, Avry can't stop herself from healing fatally ill children and each time she does she must move on in case the child's parents turn her in, though this time the sickness she's assumed overcomes her and she's captured. While in prison awaiting execution she's approached by a man called Kerrick who breaks her out so she can heal his "friend". Unfortunately this friend is hundreds of miles away and with a bounty on her head the journey is dangerous even with Kerrick's men accompanying them. When Avry is informed of who she's to heal, she refuses because it's a prince accused of inhumane crimes. Assuming his illness, the plague, would mean certain death for her. Sacrificing her life for a child is one thing, they're innocent but for a cruel and powerful man -no. Kerrick reacts badly, punishing her until she changes her mind. She's too stubborn so they try to change her mind in other ways while they travel. On the journey she gets to know each man, saving her hate for the mysterious Kerrick. They teach her survival and fighting skills so she can defend herself. Along the way they begin to understand more about the plague, it's link to the sentient network of huge human-eating venus flytrap flowers and the healer's guild. They also encounter a real madman, Tohon, who can influence and read thoughts and emotions using it to gain more territory and power. His experiments are nightmarish and genocidal. Politics and intrigue ensue. There are many fighting for power in the game of thrones kings in this post-apocalyptic fantasy.The hundreds of miles Avry & co travel, and on foot, makes my feet ache in sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and Avry's journey spanning about 6 months. I loved the high level of detail involved and the intricacies of the characters' magical abilities. I laughed at the Men in Black moment when Avry shouts “Eat me!” to the mutant plant. In fact, I did a lot of laughing. Avry and her merry men grow to be a tight-knit family who jump at the chance to tease, compete and help each other. I was sad when a character died but I have a feeling we’ll see them again though I’m worried about how they’ll be changed by the experience. I wish I had a Papa Bear and friends like these who'd die for me if need be, and vice versa.Kerrick and Avry's relationship develops and evolves slowly as he learns how to handle his emotions. His desperate 2-year search for a healer and Avry's stubborn refusal turns him into an unlikeable man but with the persuasion of his men he pushes back his anger and gets to know Avry and comes to understand what makes her tick. He shares his skills with her and they come to find they can share and enhance each others magic, something they never thought possible. I enjoyed their slow-burning combustible chemistry, Kerrick's jealousy and finally his realisation that not every woman is like his ex Jael.And can I just say I love these covers! It’s rare when I want both. One shows pure grit, determination and “power” (LEFT). The other, the delicate yet beautiful effect a “touch” can have (RIGHT). I definitely look forward to the next installment of this series. Bring it on!***Thank you to Mira Books for the ARC supplied via NetGalley for an honest review***