Touch of Power (Healer Series #1)

Touch of Power (Healer Series #1)

by Maria V. Snyder


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778313076
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 12/20/2011
Series: Healer Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 351,755
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times bestselling author of the Study series, the Glass series, the Healer series, Inside Out, and Outside In. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Meteorology from Penn State and a Master of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University. Unable to part ways with Seton Hill, Maria is currently a teacher and mentor for the MFA program. Find her on the Web at

Read an Excerpt

The little girl wouldn't stop crying. I didn't blame her. She was dying, after all. Her lungs were so full of fluid she'd drown in another few hours. Tossing and turning on my thin mattress, I listened to her cries as they sawed through the floorboards and through my heart, cutting it in two.

One piece pleaded for me to save her, urging me to heal the girl with the bright smile and ginger curls. The other side pulsed a warning beat. Her family would thank me by turning me in to the town watch. I'd be hanged as a war criminal. No trial needed.

The horrors from the dark years of the plague were still fresh in the survivors' minds. They considered those times a war. A war that had been started by healers, who then spread the deadly disease, and refused to heal it.

Of course it was utter nonsense. We couldn't heal the plague. And we didn't start it. But in the midst of the chaos, no one listened to reason. Someone had to be blamed. Right?

The girl's screams pierced my heart. I couldn't stand it any longer. Three years on the run. Three years of hiding. Three terrible years full of fear and loneliness. For what? My life? Yes, I live and breathe and exist. Nothing else.

Flinging my blankets off, I hurried downstairs. I didn't need to change since I would never sleep in nightclothes or without my boots on. When you were on the run, the possibility of being surprised in the middle of the night was high. There was no time to waste when escaping, so I wore my black travel pants and black shirt to bed every night. The dark color ideal for blending into shadows.

Another trick of being on the run involved finding a second-floor room with both front and back doors and no skeletons. They were hard to find as most towns had burned the plague victims' homes in the misguided attempt to destroy the disease. And many victims died alone. My current hideout was above the family with the dying child.

I knocked on my downstairs neighbors' door loud enough for the sound to be heard over the child's wet wails. When it opened, her mother, Mavis, stared wordlessly at me. She held the two-year-old girl in her strong arms, and the knowledge that her child was dying shone in her brown eyes. Her pale skin clung to her gaunt face. She swayed with pure exhaustion.

Underneath the sheen of tears and red flush of fever, the little girl's skin had death's pale hue. In a few moments, she wouldn't have the breath to scream.

I held out my arms. "Mavis, go to sleep. I'll watch… Fawn." Finally, I remembered her name. Another rule to being on the run was to avoid getting close to anyone. No friends. But I needed to earn money, and I had to make a few acquaintances in order to keep up with the gossip. I'd stayed with Mavis's children on occasion, which helped with both.

Panicked, Mavis pulled Fawn closer to her.

"The rest of your family needs you, as well. You should rest before you collapse or get sick." She hesitated.

"I will wake you if anything changes. I promise."

Mavis's resistance crumpled and she handed me Fawn. Well beyond lucidity, the little girl didn't notice the change in the arms around her, but my magic sprang to life at the touch, pushing to be released from my core. Fawn's skin burned and her clothes were damp with sweat. I cradled Fawn as I sat in the big wooden rocking chair in the living room. The lantern burned low, casting a weak yellow light over the threadbare furniture. This family hadn't looted from their neighbors, which said much about them.

Next to the window I had a clear view of the street. A half-moon illuminated the burned ruins of buildings huddled along a dirt road. Rainwater had filled the holes and ruts. The plague had killed roughly six million people—two-thirds of the population—so there was no one left to attend to minor tasks like fixing the roads or clearing away the debris. The fact that this town.. Jaxton? Or was it Wola? They all blurred together. Either way, having a local government town watch, basic commerce, no piles of skeletons and a tiny—a few hundred at most—populace was more than many other towns could claim.

I rocked Fawn, humming a tune my mother had sung to me years ago. Tendrils of my magic seeped into Fawn's body. Her cries lost the hysterical edge.

Mavis watched us for a few minutes. Did she suspect? Would she take her child back? Instead, she heeded my advice and went to bed. Waiting for Mavis to fall into a deep sleep, I rocked and hummed. Once I was certain enough time had passed, I stopped the chair. Concentrating on the girl in my arms, I allowed my full power to flow into Fawn until she was saturated with it. The release of magic sent a ripple of contentment through me. This was my area of expertise. What I should be doing.

Then I drew it back into me, cleaning out the sickness inside Fawn. My lungs filled with fluid as hers drained. I broke into a fever as hers cooled.

She hiccupped a few times, then breathed in deep. Her body relaxed and she fell into an exhausted sleep.

The sickness nestled in my chest, causing me to suck in noisy wet breaths. I couldn't pull enough air into my lungs. Goose bumps raced across my skin as a sliver of fear touched my heart. I hadn't healed anyone this sick before. Would I be strong enough? Had I waited too long to help Fawn? My own cowardice would kill me. Fitting.

The effort to breathe consumed my energy. Black and white spots swirled in my vision as I fought to stay conscious. Even though my body healed ten times faster than a regular person's, I was quite aware that it might not be fast enough.

Luckily, this wasn't that time. The crushing tightness around my ribs eased a fraction. I concentrated on the simple act of breathing.

Mavis woke me in the morning. I had fallen asleep with Fawn still in my arms.

"How did you get her to sleep? She hasn't stopped crying in days," Mavis said.

Still groggy, I searched for a good explanation. "My tuneless humming must have bored her." My voice rasped with phlegm and set off a coughing fit.

"Uh-huh." She peered at me with a contemplative purse on her lips.

"Her fever broke last night," I tried between coughs.

Unconvinced, Mavis gently lifted Fawn and transferred the girl to her crib. "You should rest, as well. You look…"

I waved off her concern. "Nothing a couple of hours of sleep won't cure." But my legs betrayed me as I staggered to my feet. Moving with care, I headed toward the door.

When I reached for the knob, Mavis said, "Avry."

I froze and glanced over my shoulder, waiting for the accusation.

"Thank you."

Nodding, I hurried from the room. The climb to my place drained all my strength. I hacked up blood as the sweat poured from my body. I needed to grab my escape bag and leave town. Now. But when I bent to retrieve the knapsack from under the bed, a wave of dizziness overwhelmed me. Instead of fleeing, I collapsed on the floor.

A part of my mind knew I only required a few hours of sleep to recover, while another part planned the quickest route out of town. A third part still worried. With good reason.

A fist pounded on the door hard enough that I felt the vibrations through my cheek. Waking with a jolt, I scrambled to my feet. A male voice ordered me to surrender. Darkness filled the room and pressed against the windowpane. I had slept all day.

Unfortunately, this situation wasn't new to me. I scooped up my escape bag and exited through the back door. Pausing on the landing, I scanned the area. Moonlight lit the wooden steps. No one blocked them. Hurrying down, I shouldered my pack and ran through the empty alley that reeked of cat urine.

A figure stood at the alley's southern exit so I turned around. Except the northern route was also blocked. The only way out was through the tight space between buildings to the street where there would no doubt be more town watchmen.

The crash of a door echoed off the bricks. Upon my landing, a man called, "Do you have her?"

The two in the alley closed in. Guess I would take my chances. I darted through the narrow opening and right into a waiting town watchman's arms.

Voices yelled, "Don't touch her skin."

"Take her pack."

"Cuff her quick."

The drowning sickness had rendered me too weak to put up much of a fight. In mere seconds, my hands were manacled behind my back. My three years on the run had ended. It was hard to tell if fear or relief dominated. At this point, both had equal sway.

The captain of the watchmen yanked my shirt off my right shoulder, exposing my healer tattoo to the crowd. It appeared as if the entire town had gathered to witness my arrest. As expected, they gasped at the proof of the monster in their midst. And to think, I had once been proud of the symbol of my profession—a simple circle of hands. From a few feet away, it resembled a daisy with hand-shaped petals.

I scanned faces as the watchmen congratulated themselves on their catch. Mavis and her husband stood among the gawkers. He glared and approached me, dragging Mavis along. She wouldn't meet my gaze. Little Fawn clung to her mother's leg.

"It doesn't matter that you saved my girl's life," the husband said. "Your kind is responsible for millions of deaths. And the gold your execution will bring this town is sorely needed."

True. Tohon of Sogra placed a bounty of twenty golds for every healer caught and executed. I suspect the plague killed one or more of his loved ones. Otherwise, why would a powerful life magician care? The disease certainly didn't care, eliminating people without rhyme or reason.

Right before I was escorted to the jail, Fawn waved bye-bye to me. I smiled. My empty, pointless life for hers. Not bad.

Inside the town watch's station house I endured endless rounds of questions. They wanted me to turn over my healer cohorts. I almost laughed at that. I hadn't encountered another healer in three years. In fact, I'd guessed they had been smarter than me and had found a nice refuge to hide in while they waited for this current madness to pass.

I refused to answer their ridiculous queries, letting their voices flow past me as I concentrated on Fawn's healthy face. Eventually they removed the manacles, measured me for my coffin and locked me in a cell below ground level, promising tomorrow would be my last day. I had an appointment with the guillotine. Lovely.

At least the guards left a lantern hanging on the stone wall opposite my cell—a basic cube with iron bars on three sides and one stone wall. Equipped with a slop pot and metal bed, I had the space to myself. And no neighbors in the adjoining cells. The bedsprings squealed under my weight. My lungs wheezed in the damp air thanks to Fawn's stubborn sickness.

I wasn't as terrified as I had imagined. In fact, I was looking forward to my first solid night's sleep in three years. Ah, the little things in life.

Too bad, I didn't even get my last wish.

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Touch of Power 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
NinjaWife More than 1 year ago
This book is astoundingly awesome! I happened upon it by accident and am so glad I did. I am a die hard Maria V. Snyder fan, I loved the Study series it was incredile. I was not as impressed with her tie in series (Glass series with Opal) as I was with the study series So i was worried about this. I was duly impressed with the story telling skills in this book. Avry's story grabs you by the shoulders and jerks you into her world for a fast paced, but not too fast (like the kind that you don't understand anything because it jumps from one thing to the next too quickly), adventure. I can't recommend this enough! Stunning!
Icecream18JA More than 1 year ago
This book is wow-worthy. The main character, Avry, is clever, brave, and witty. She is the readers' guide through a world where healers are loathed and killed on sight. A healer herself, Avry will impress the reader with her depth of compassion and ability to put aside her own personal emotions-even if it means her life. This world created by Snyder is a harsh one; a plague has swept through the land, killing every single person it infects. Healers are powerless against this plague, dying in exchange for the plague-stricken person. Healers are reviled because the average person in this novel suspects healers of deliberately starting the plague. The reader is taken right into the action of the story; the author provides background knowledge along the way. Avry is captured by people who intend to trade her in as a healer for a reward. Expecting death, Avry is instead captured by a group which has a specific purpose in mind for her. They demand Avry heal a plague victim-a prince. Avry knows better, she realizes that to do so would mean her life. What will Avry decide? As a character, Avry was wonderful. She wasn't too perfect, but she was very endearing and completely likable. Kerrick, the love interest, will likely rub the reader the wrong way-he rubs Avry the wrong way much of the book as well. Stubborn, cruel at times, and unyielding, Kerrick is not a character the reader will take an instant liking to. The other characters of the motley band are interesting, they each have very different traits that the reader will find memorable. The events are extremely fast-paced. The characters do develop along the way, they are very dynamic and thus more interesting and fun to the reader. Readers can be extremely happy when they put this book down-there is another book in the series to look forward to! This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.
StarSpun More than 1 year ago
I love, love, love Maria V. Snyder¿s Poison Study (and her Inside Out) series, so was very excited to hear about her new book, Touch of Power, featuring 20 year old Avry, a healer on the run from those that would have her executed because of her power. After healing a child in the town she¿s hiding out in, she¿s arrested and sent to the guillotine, but rescued by a band of men that value her power. It doesn¿t seem to make much sense that people would want to execute a healer, does it? No, it doesn¿t, however, healers are thought to the be the cause of a plague that has decimated the human population, to the tune of about 6 million dead. That is why they want to execute healers. However, there are certain people in power that would love to have a healer at their disposal, so there is also a significant bounty on Avry¿s head. So, Avry goes on the run with the mysterious (and initially annoying) Kerrick, and his group of friends, and that¿s when the story really takes off. See, Kerrick and Co. want her to heal someone, but this someone is a person that Avry doesn¿t have that great of an opinion of (to say the least), but who may hold the key to peace, so convincing her he¿s worth healing will be hard. Rival mercs and bounty hunters are around every corner, and that¿s not counting the deadly Death Lillies that litter the valley, but there¿s more to those than meets the eye too. Ms. Snyder has a talent for storytelling, and she manages to do it very well without a lot of the flowery prose that you see in fantasy novels. I love that, and she really has a knack for getting you to turn the pages. Avry reminded me a little of Yelena in Poison Study, but she¿s definitely very much her own woman. There¿s plenty of action and intrigue, and some twists that I honestly didn¿t see coming, also a bit of romance. Ms. Snyder¿s baddies are bad (with maybe a touch of gray, but just a touch), and her good guys are really good. This is so refreshing for me, amongst the dark fantasy full of gray characters. Don¿t get me wrong, I loves me some gray, but sometimes a story with a really strong glimmer of hope is much needed! Also, I believe Touch of Power is aimed at adults, but other than some violence and a bit of gore (and sex references, but , but no details-Avery is 20 after all), I really think teens would enjoy it as well. It¿s a great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors, and I¿ll look forward to continuing Avery¿s adventures in Scent of Magic in 2013 (yarg, but all good things, right?)
ForThisMoment More than 1 year ago
Another amazing read from Maria V. Snyder. I read her magic study series and fell in love with her writing then. I saw this book and had to read it. Avry is an incredible heroine and narrator. She has trust issues yet she makes such great relationships and bonds and cares selflessly for so many people. She heals even though she knows how damaging the effects will be to herself, yet it does not faze her in the slightest. Even though she has a bounty over her head, she still has a sense of humor. Avry is a great role model for all ages of readers. Beyond Avry, I felt as if I knew every character well because of the great descriptions and scenes. The book ended on such a great note I may not even read the sequel because I am so happy with it. I'd recommend this book to anyone.
sunshinejenn03 More than 1 year ago
What can I say? Touch of Power is powerful! It has a little bit of everything for the reader that likes to dabble in, but isn’t wed to, different genres: magic, romance, suspense, mystery, and action. As my first Maria V. Snyder novel, it really packed a punch for me and I can confidently say I will be back for more. Touch of Power follows after a terribly plague has swept across the lands of the Fifteen Kingdoms, for which the healers, like Avry of Kazan, are blamed, and thus extinguished. She’s remained in hiding for the last three years, desperately trying not to give herself away until the compulsion to heal is too much, sending her packing before she can be caught once again. Her luck runs out however, when she’s captured and forced on an unwelcome journey to heal the very man she despises. I really enjoyed Touch of Power. I love the fantasy genre in general, but this novel is exceptionally well-done. Maria V. Snyder has built a vivid, fascinating world, with flowing descriptions of the lands and people within it. I especially found the Peace Lilies and Death Lilies so creative and awesome! They absolutely fascinated me. It’s a book I hope never makes it to the big-screen, because anything Hollywood comes up with can’t possibly match what Snyder has created within her pages and my imagination. There is also no shortage of spunk and fun throughout the story, with snide comments, jokes and laughter. Everything is just incredibly well-balanced. Her characters are simply amazing and full of life. Avry is our smart, spunky heroine, without having too much of both. She’s got her sarcasm down pat, and I loved that. She’s also very strong and smart (I really hate having to root for the dumb guy). Kerrick is sexy and brooding, and I know that sexy and brooding is overplayed right now, but hey, when something fits, it fits, and nothing else would have fit Kerrick. He was also loyal to a fault, determined and and damned pain in the ass and I loved him for it. Tohon is an excellent “bad guy.” He’s sinister and sweet in that sociopathic kind of way that leaves Snyder’s readers guessing what he’ll do next, which tickled my fancy quite a bit. I think beyond any personal vendetta, he actually does like Avry quite a bit, in his own way. Their relationship was especially dynamic and I enjoyed it. In short, Touch of Power is awesome and I am so glad I saw it in another blogger’s IMM and nabbed it, because it was a blast to read. For MVS fans, you’ll love it; for Fantasy fans, you’ll love it!
annmarie2011 More than 1 year ago
Avry of Kazan is a healer at one stage there was many people like her but now she is the last of her kind. She has been running since the healers were blamed for starting the plague that killed so many people. Avry did the only thing she could run and hide. The only problem is as a healer it's not always easy to watch people die when you know you can save them. When Avry slips up and heals a dying child you would think people would be grateful but no the town turns her in for the promise of gold and Avry is left waiting for her death. The most shocking thing happens next she is rescued from the town but what do her rescuers what and what will it cost her. Avry is a strong minded lead character from the start you really did feel for the character. She is one of those women you want to be. She is smart and she has hidden all this time without being court. She is strong minded even when faced with the worse. The author really does know how to make her characters stand out. There were a lot of unforgettable people in this book and at times you wished you could meet them face to face. You become attached to the people you're reading about and you don't want the adventure to stop. The story line of the book was just brilliant it was a fantasy to remember there was the world it was based in. There was a raging war going on the common people are struggling to survive while the royals are all about winning no one seems to care about the people they are ruling. The book was packed with interesting things like the healers and magic and what people will do with their abilities. The story worked really well and it had my interested from the very start. I loved learning about the people and the world the book was set in. There was none stop action and some of the funniest comments from characters. There was lies and back stabbing. I really did fall in love with the book. By the end you are going to be holding your heart in your hand you might even cry but most of all your going to have the need to know what will happen next. Maria V. Snyder is the queen of fantasy and Touch of power proves it. 5 stars.
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Dazzlamb More than 1 year ago
Avry of Kazan is a healer, she's done only good with her gift, but if people find out what she's capable of, she will be hunted. In the fifteen realms healers are accused of spreading and originally causing the plague that's been bringing misery and death. Avry has been in hiding for quite some time now and her life changes radically when she's kidnapped by a band of men. That's when she starts questioning her sentiments and her loyalties. Can she become friends with strangers who are keeping her hostage, or heal her enemy? We get to learn much about Avry's healing talent and she learns a different way of living. She falls in love with a man she never thought she could appreciate. Maria V. Snyder sent Avry on a journey through many hardships. With a group of rogues who will soon feel like friends and one man among them who will mean everything to her. The camaraderie that binds them and their past, their fascinating stories and backgrounds, plus the dynamics of their group are a guarantee for liking them all and wanting to immediately return to the magical world Maria V. Snyder created with TOUCH OF POWER every time you had to leave it. It was a long read and I enjoyed it so much, it was something entirely different from what I'd read so far. Really familiar characters, that fast became my friends, too. All in all TOUCH OF POWER is a very satisfiable read with a great historical touch, a romance for Avry that you will come to enjoy naturally and an overall encompassing quest. 5/5 ***** A TOUCH OF POWER - A fine fantasy read with an excellent historical touch and a fierce heroine. A read right up my alley when I at least expected it. It's been over a year since I read TOUCH OF POWER, so it's definitely time to pick up the sequel soon. Equipped with a map of the fifteen realms, navigating this new fantasy world full of possibilities is even more fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
eternalised More than 1 year ago
Touch of Power reminded me of Graceling. The writing is excellent, the plot is original, the heroine is kick-ass awesome. This is a YA Fantasy the way it should be. The book is amazing, and I’d recommended it to anyone who enjoys YA Fantasy. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Such a wonderful book. Couldn't put it down!
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Was a wonderful book kept me intetested to the end 280 pages loved it cant wait to read the next book in the series
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This book was a great read for teens and adults alike. Cant wait to read the second book.
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