Before I get into this trilogy, let's chat. I've read others by Maria Snyder, with a mixed experience. Some I really liked and others I didn't like at all. In fact, after reading this trilogy, I decided that I'm done reading her books. There's a common theme that I find very troubling. Her female protagonists keep falling in love with guys that treat them badly--at first. Then after they decide they love each other, it's supposedly all warm fuzzies and bliss.
For instance, in the first book of this series, at one point Kerrick actually backhands Avry, and also ties her to a tree and won't give her food or water (until she promises not to run away any more.) Really, though? I don't care about his "reasons" for doing it--a man that hits a woman? Not ever okay. In another one of her series, the girl--who is a royal poison taste tester as a punishment for a crime--falls in love with the guy who administers the poison to her during her "training."
Anyway, in every series of hers this keeps coming up in some form. I stopped reading the Sea Glass series because of it. I don't understand why she puts it in every book and I don't like the implications it puts out there. Namely, that if you stay with the abusive guy, it will be all better once you're in love. If he has "good" reasons, then it's okay. Unhealthy patterns when you're falling in love will automatically go away once you're both committed. No, No, NO! I especially don't like that these books are supposedly geared for teens with this type of subtext going on.
Okay, so keeping all of that in mind, read on if you want to find out what I thought of this series in particular.
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The series in which death is a revolving door. That's all you need to know. Someone you especially like gets killed off? Don't you worry about a thing. (wink wink)
4 stars: Unique premise and feisty characters.
Avry's a healer, which means she can lay her hands on a sick or injured person and assume their injuries herself. They end up healed, while she ends up sick or worse. The good thing for her is that she heals much faster than a normal person would. She just has to be careful not to assume anything beyond her power to heal herself.
You would think this ability would be looked highly upon, and it was before the plague. Since that dark time, however, healers have been hunted down and killed all over the kingdom. You see, they couldn't heal the plague, so to most it seemed as though they were simply refusing to help when people were dying all around them. When rumors started flying that the Healer's Guild had actually started the plague, that was the last straw for most people.
So Avry's been on the run for quite some time and expects to be for the rest of her life--however short that may be. Then she is captured by a man named Kerrick and his band of misfits. As it turns out, she is the last healer left anywhere, and there is a Prince who needs healing. Unfortunately, Avry has had some dealings with this Prince and hates him. Having no better alternative, however, she is prevailed upon to travel with Kerrick and the others--they did save her life, after all. Also, her attempt at running away failed miserably.
As they go, she learns more about the troubles brewing all over the kingdom. Kerrick is convinced this Prince of his is the answer to the trouble facing them. Avry is convinced of nothing. This could get interesting.
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You know what? This is another one that I've read before! Must have been a long time ago, because I didn't review it and I was reading merrily away without realizing it until I got to the Death Lilies and Peace Lilies. Then this memory trickled in of what was going to happen. Weird. Anyway...
There was a lot going on, which kept me turning pages. Avry's powers as a Healer were intriguing; the multiple armies forming with varied allegiances and problems; Avry's moral dilemma about healing the Prince; romantic tension between our two lead characters, and so on. It was a fully realized world with complicated problems shaping up. I wanted to know what was going to happen!
Even taking into account my misgivings about the way Avry and Kerrick's relationship was shaping up (as mentioned above), I liked it. I went on to the next right away.
Content: Occasional bad language, a couple of non-graphic sex scenes. Supposed to be for teens, but it's more adult in content.
(Finished reading June 15.)
3 stars: The action slows down quite a bit in this second installment.
Kerrick and Avry have split up to accomplish their bigger goal: stopping King Tohon from taking over the world as they know it. Kerrick heads up north, to rally his kingdom to battle, while Avry's job is to infiltrate Estrid's army of religious fanatics and teach them how to walk quietly in the forest. For real. That's her job. She's also trying to reconnect with her younger sister who is part of the army.
Meanwhile, Tohon has a horrifying surprise of his own: an army of the dead, obedient to his commands. There doesn't seem to be any way out of this mess, but if anyone can find it, our dynamic duo can.
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The plot was much stronger when our two main characters were together. This one switched POV's between them and was overall just a slower read.
Content: Same as the first--some language, a handful of non-graphic sex scenes. Adult level content.
(Finished reading June 23.)
2 stars: The darkest (hence the title?!) and least favorite of the 3.
Kerrick has got some big problems. Mostly that his connection to the forest has become immeasurably deeper. So much so that he is the forest, to some extent. Avry is back to healing people, but she not only is grieving for Kerrick, she keeps having these awful dreams featuring the slimy Tohon. Also, the Prince may or may not be using her as bait for the bad guys. Not happy.
There's slim hope that everything will come around and give us a positive ending, but it seems less likely as time goes on.
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Okay, I read this one to finish the series and see if the loose ends got tied up. Maybe I should have just read some reviews with spoilers instead. This was the darkest of the three in content, particularly the scenes involving the Skeleton King. He and his minions were just disgusting and beyond creepy. The torture scene--could definitely have done without that. Yuck.
Also, Avry's personality really started to bother me. She was so clueless at times. Time and again, she would make plans--upon which other people's lives depended--than break them to go do her own thing when the opportunity presented itself. I think it was supposed to come across as her being this independent woman who couldn't be told what to do, but really, it was obnoxious. Of course, her plans always resulted in some greater good, so she was welcomed back...
Why did any of her friends put up with her? They stayed loyal to her, for the most part, though I couldn't figure out why exactly. They had this indulgent attitude toward her, like, "Oh, that Avry. [Fond chuckle.] No-one can tell her what to do." Say what?!
Speaking of her friends. For all they seemed to love her and be protective, they kept ditching her and leaving her to defend herself at the worst times. Prince Ryne--couldn't stand him. He was so manipulative--and he was the one built up to be the great leader. I didn't really like the ending either. So, all in all, a letdown.
Content: Torture, some language, non-graphic sex scenes. For adults.
(Finished reading June 29.)
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So, if you couldn't tell already, I don't recommend these books. Anyone I talked to about them would have to hear my whole spiel with all the caveats. By then, what's the point? So yeah, if I were you, I would move on to something else.