Published by Harlequin on December 31, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Source: Net Galley
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She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?
Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.
But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.
I have read and loved every single one of Maria V. Snyder’s books and this one was no different. MVS creates amazing, selfless, strong female characters. And secondary characters you become invested in.
On Goodreads I noticed some readers were disgruntled with the title change. Snyder, while writing, tentatively called the book Taste of Death, which I loved. It was edgy and dark and totally what I hoped this book would be. She wasn’t the one to change it, the publishers did. They thought it was too macabre for a YA book. I don’t disagree. Taste of Darkness worked for this book.
I went into this book with high expectations and Snyder didn’t disappoint. Scent of Magic left me hanging high and dry, so I was very excited to be able to get my hands on Taste of Darkness 3 months before it’s release date. We were left with Kerrick leaving Avry’s side in the middle of the night after being poisoned by death lily toxin. End of Scent of Magic below.
***The sickness battered his body. Weak-kneed, he sprawled on the ground as he fought the urge to pass out, concentrating on the tree canopy above him. He had promised Avry not to die. In his delirium, he must have pulled power. Vines crept over his legs and chest. They twined around his arms. He struggled to free himself. Kerrick had to return to the cave. To Avry. The living green spoke to him for the first time in his life. Relax, it said in his mind. Be at peace. Avry, I’m sorry. The sickness claimed him. And he was lost to fever dreams.***
Avry is a character I loved immediately. She is so incredibly selfless. As a healer she is constantly putting her life in danger healing fatally injured people. No life is too insignificant. The Realms are at war and she feels guilt over defending herself against the enemy when it leads to death. As a healer, Avry signifies life, in it’s purest form.
There is also a new big bad to contend with in ToD. The Skeleton King takes advantage of everyone at war and throws his hat in the ring, And since Tohon is in a magical stasis with a fatal stab wound, Cellina has taken over his army. And her sister Wynn (the traitor) teamed up with the Skeleton King.
I enjoy that Snyder doesn’t do insta-love. And while the heroines may start off between a rock and a hard place they refuse to give up. They have a will to live and stubbornness like I’ve never seen. And most of the time they start off strongly disliking the hero because of misinformation or misunderstanding, even because of the position they hold.
We see some characters grow in this book. Flea and Danny each grow into young men, war does that to you. Each learning to get a handle on their powers. Kerrick is as swoon worthy as ever in ToD. His and Avry’s love for one another is so strong. These are where my love stories come from, screw Romeo and Juliet, Bella and Edward, I want a love like Kerrick and Avry, or Yelena and Valek. Snyder creates men worth falling for.
This book was a great ending to a great series. I wouldn’t mind her doing a spin off to learn more about what happens now that the war is over. I will enjoy going back and rereading this series when I have time. I’d say another home-run for Snyder.
“‘No.’ I yanked my arm from his grasp and stumbled back. An invisible hand wrapped around my ankle. ‘Avry?’ asked a bush. I squealed with pure joy and crouched down, finding Kerrick. Arms snaked around my back as he pulled me close. The rest of the world disappeared as I clung to him, breathing his scent, feeling his chest move. Bliss.”
“‘Why not? I’ve been on the edge of death a couple of times. I’ve had a taste of the darkness. My connection to this world is as thin as a blade of grass.’”
“‘You keep saying ‘we,’ yet you haven’t consulted with anyone about this suicide mission.’ Good point. ‘She doesn’t need to,’ Kerrick said. ‘I’m in,’ Flea added. ‘We’re packed,’ Loren said. He entered the clearing with Quain. Both had their knapsacks over their shoulders. Warmth and gratitude spread through my heart.”
“‘We have them all.’ Flea gestured to the others wildly. People continued to pour out. Some carrying torches, others swords. All wearing robes and no shoes. All women. ‘All? As in all the girls in the monastery?’ ‘Yes, over two thousand. We must keep moving.’ Kerrick heard the number, but he didn’t quite comprehend it until the forest protested the trampling of the bushes and vines by so many feet. He didn’t recognize anyone else.”
“‘Report,’ Tohon said. ‘We caught these two trying to sneak in here.’ ‘I do not sneak,’ Noak said, sounding affronted.”
Snyder has also been wonderful enough to send me a copy of Taste of Death to giveaway today! If you haven’t read any of her books, I strongly recommend giving them a try.