As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical 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 confident, 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.
With everyone believing she died from the plague, Avry goes undercover in order to help further the quest to bring the tyrannical King Tohon and his undead army down. Despite the pain it causes her, to keep her cover she has to leave her lover, Prince Kerrick behind. She sets herself up to be of use to one of Tohon's opposing armies to hopefully get some insider information, and get one step closer to her estranged sister. Training soldiers by day and learning trade secrets by night all while trying to maintain her secret identity, and suddenly Tohon isn't the only thing causing her stress. Still she's determined to stay her course and see him and everyone else who would seek to use her stopped once and for all.
Just as in TOUCH OF POWER, it is the characters that truly made SCENT OF MAGIC a stellar read. In addition to the great cast from the first book, a whole new bunch was added. In fact, I'm rather impressed with Maria V. Snyder's ability to incorporate such a large group of characters without any of them fading to the background. Each and every single one had their own unique voice and were fully three dimensional. Of course I did have my favorites, namely Avry and Kerrick, but that's mostly because I am a romantic at heart. In fact, my only real complaint I can give this book (aside from the ending which I'll get to in a bit) is that the two of them had to spend so much time apart. But I guess in order to further the plot and keep the angst there, it had to be that way, but I still would have wished for just a little bit more time together as they make such a great couple, especially when you consider how they started out.
I was really impressed with the rotation of perspectives in SCENT OF MAGIC. If you have read a lot of my past reviews, then you know that I am really picky when it comes to changing focuses in character perspectives. I greatly prefer first person narrative, but I don't mind the dual third person standard in paranormal romances, although I have to be in the mood for them. It isn't like my "tried and true" first person preference. That being said, SCENT OF MAGIC held the best of both worlds as the majority was told from Avry's first person perspective, but there were also sections that were told from Kerrick's view in third person. Without Kerrick's perspective, I felt a lot of important details would have been missed. Also, by throwing Kerrick's seperate journeys in there, there was a good bit of foreshadowing that the reader knew about, but Avry didn't. It was kind of nice having that insider information, because honestly I would have been just as devastated as she was several points throughout the book without it. Definitely a case of perspectives done right.
As much as I enjoyed the first installment in the series, I can't remember it making quite as much as an impact on me as SCENT OF MAGIC did. I was absolutely riveted from the very start of this book as I just couldn't put it down. Also, I do not remember being this desperate to get my hands on the next installment, of course that could be largely due to SCENT OF MAGIC ending on a brutal cliffhanger. The torture is only made worse when you consider the fact that the final installment won't be out until near the end of 2013. Nasty cliffhangers aside, SCENT OF MAGIC is a stellar read that will keep you up until the wee hours of the morning. Maria V. Snyder knows how to craft a well told story that is not to be missed!
(Received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley)