A plague has swept through the Fifteen Realms, decimating the populace. It is believed that the dreaded disease was created and spread by the Healers – people who have the ability to absorb the wounds and diseases of the ill and injured into themselves.  Throughout the land Healers are hunted and executed for the gold bounty on their heads. One such is a young woman named Avry of Kazan – only half-trained before the plague hit. Avry lives her life in hiding, revealing herself only when her desire to overcome suffering outweighs her need for safety. When she heals a small child, she is turned over to the town watchmen to await execution. Suddenly she is rescued by a stranger who wants to use her powers for his own agenda – to heal a plague infected prince who is the enemy of her people. As they make the daunting journey across the Nine Mountains they are attacked by mercenaries and encounter a multitude of magical dangers. As Avry learns more about the origins of the plague and the hidden motives of the Healer Guild she must face the fact that healing the prince may cost her own life. And not healing him may cause a war that will cost the lives of everyone around her.

Sissy: The story is full of magic, adventure, intrigue and romance. You really never know what’s going to happen next in the lives of a group of characters that you feel attached to immediately. Avry is the perfect heroine with a mix of compassion, femininity, courage and fighting skills. Her magical powers of healing are only the beginning of her potential. As the book unfolds you realized that Avry is so much more than just a Healer. I am excited to peel back even more of her layers in the next book of the series (Scent of Magic, available December 18, 2012).

Bubby: Wow. That was a mouthful, Sissy! I see that you really like this girl! I did too. In the first pages of the book, Avry is faced with an ethical dilemma – does she keep her powers secret, keep herself safe and let a little girl die or does she heal the girl, knowing that might mean facing her own death? Obviously she chooses to heal little Fawn. This sets the theme for the entire book. Avry would always rather do what is right than what is safe.

Sissy: Yes, Avry is much like myself. Always wanting to do the right thing.

Bubby: I roll my eyes in your general direction, dearest sister.

Sissy: The problem Avry has is that she never knows who to trust. Everything that she has believed in all her years could be wrong. Does she go ahead and let herself have feelings for a man who participated in the decimation of her people?

Bubby: Yes, and is the Healer’s Guild really the wonderful altruistic organization she thought it was or are they actually responsible for the horrible plague?

Sissy: Avry has lost all of her family except for her sister from whom she is estranged. That is completely unimaginable in my world. I would rather have a toothpick stuck horizontally in my nostrils than be estranged from my dear, dear sister.

Bubby: Awww! That is so sweet! I’m glad that this is published so that I can show it to you next time you decided to disown me! I love you too. You are strange, to be sure, but we are anything but estranged. To be without loved ones is truly something I cannot even fathom. I need a piece of chocolate just thinking about how awful Avry’s situation is.

Sissy: THis book has lots of exciting mysteries to solve and skeewumpus relationships to sort through.

Bubby: Skeewumpus? Wow. (Already ordered her a thesaurus for Christmas, don’t worry).

Sissy: AND it’s all very engaging and well written as is usual for a book by Maria V. Snyder. Bubby is just jealous that I am a wordsmith.

Bubby: *snort*. Wordsmith. *SNORT*.

Sissy: Of the Wordsmith Guild. You were not chosen as a child like I was.

Bubby: This is why I don’t drink carbonated beverages around you anymore, Sissy. I have ruined one too many shirts with the Diet Cola spewing as a response to your, ahem, imaginative wanderings. I must get back to the book now and mention that I have great respect for our author. I have read several series by her and it’s fascinating how she can write equally well in a fantasy/medieval genre like this book as well as in sci-fi like her last series (Inside Out and Outside In). Her characterizations really make the stories come alive.

Sissy: “Her characterizations really make the stories come alive”?

Bubby: That’s what I said.

Sissy: Who are you? Scholastic Press? The Weekly Reviewer? Where is your imagination? Let’s hear something new!

Bubby: Alright. How about this? Snyder weaves a rich tapestry of magic and mystery as she draws us into the saga of Avry of Kazan. Avry is a delightful rendering of a young woman at a crossroads – torn between her duty and calling as a Healer and her love of a man who has wreaked atrocities against her countrymen. How’s that, Sissy?

Sissy: I swoon. I faint. I wipe my fevered brow with a cold compress at the complexity of your verbalizations.

Bubby: Ha! Who’s the wordsmith now, huh?

Sissy: So back to the story, go out immediately and read it. It’s really good. Oh, and we forgot to mention the Death and Peace Lilies. Even the flowers in this story have personality! I give it 4 1/2 bubbles.

Bubby: I can’t wait for the sequel. Maybe if I am really nice Sissy will buy it for me for Christmas. I give it 4 bubbles.

© Bubble Bath Books 2012