Review: Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Title: Taste of Darkness
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Series: Healer/Avry of Kazan #3
Pages: 464
Published: expected December 31 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1.5/5

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.

The Maria V. Snyder Fantasy Trilogy Curse is alive and well. Following in the sad and disappointing path of the Study series before it, Snyder could never again capture the magic that made Touch of Power so much fun to read back in 2011. Each successive installment in the series has seen a marked downgrade in plotting, character consistency, and creativity. Too much is magicked away, too many characters are returned from death... it all adds up to a novel without any bite and a story without a clear focus. Like Scent of Magic before it, Taste of Darkness ruins any chance of a series redemption and a return to greatness, but this time, it's for forever.

The holding pattern of "Kerrick is dead and Avry doesn't know what to do" that we got to know so well for so long in book two shows up again. For nearly two hundred pages, readers are deprived of what largely drew them to this series in the first place: Avry and Kerrick. Together. In the same place, at the same time. Synder apparently doesn't realize that her novels always work better when the main characters have a chance to show off their banter and chemistry. She made us like the two love interests with the first book, only to keep them apart and dangle their happiness like a carrot at the end of a stick.The same issue can be used for the "group"at large; the first book introduced this great group of characters only to split them up once we cared about them. It makes no sense.

Part of the big issue with this series is, besides how lazy the writing and plotting can be (see also: extended training/travel passages that have little impact on the overall plot), but that Snyder takes so little risk with characters or story. If DEATH itself, you know, Old Inevitable, the Universal Truth, the Only Certainty in Life, holds little sway over your characters, where's the suspense? Where's the fear? How can I care what happens if there are no repercussions to anyone's actions? It's no fun if you know that the good guys will always live and the bad guys will always die. Because justice. Well, sure, justice would be nice and fair -- but is it authentic? Especially when it involves characters coming back to life not once but TWO times?

I've always disagreed with Snyder's decision to add a second POV --- LATE in the game. While Kerrick's POV has been around now for two books now, it still brings little to the table. Not only that, but the switch from Avry's first-person to his third-person is never smooth and only serves to remind readers how artificial the narration of the entire novel feels. Not only that, but the book feels scattered -- exchanging one antagonist for another only to go back to Tohon as the main villain. It's just unfocused and unclear, when a final novel should be crisp and focused.

Snyder can write great characters, but she just doesn't know what to do with them once the first novel is over. Taste of Darkness just couldn't measure up and it didn't even really try. Perhaps this author should stick to standalone novels because her series seriously suffer the longer they run. My friend Christina from A Reader of Fictions has the best way to read these books: buy book one. Read it. Pretend it is a standalone and ignore the last few pages of the last chapter. It's better that way.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.