by Maria V. Snyder
by Maria V. Snyder
Hardback: 464 Pages
Publication: December 31, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
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.
◆ A copy was provided by Harlequin for review ◆
I've liked Avry across the series, but it's hard to like her in Taste of Darkness. She's always been independent and willful. However, her obstinacy in this book puts those she cares about in dangerous situations like the time she refuses to believe that Kerrick is dead and continues the search though Ryne calls it off. They only get out through convenient happenings that help them to get out. She tends to put certain individuals before the greater good, jeopardizing the mission to stop Tohon. Over the course of the trilogy, Kerrick has grown more like Avry. Though he knows that Ryne needs him to scout accurate enemy numbers, he puts his emotions first, making him a less capable leader than he was at the start of the series. In fact, their whole group is fiercely loyal to each other. As much as I love them and their closeness, these people who risked their lives to save Ryne so that he can save the Fiften Realms now go against him even though he's doing precisely what they wanted. On the whole, the characters were rather flat in this book.
It would have been nice to have the Skeleton King be a more present force throughout the series. Kerrick's group admits that they ran into him while trying to find a healer, but other than that there wasn't much set up for his grand arrival. So much of the focus has been on Tohon that it's disorienting to have another force suddenly delve in. He also doesn't feel very scary, though I KNOW that they face difficulties with his arrival. Maybe it's because Avry and Kerrick, our two perspectives, don't see much of the main action. Nevertheless, it would have been good to see a build up of tension so that we can get a feel for the gravity of what's happening.
Some things happen that aren't fully explained. For example, what happens to Papa Bear when he disappears in Scent of Magic? And what happens in Alga for a certain event to take place in Taste of Darkness? There's a chance for information to be given to us, but it's never explained. On the whole, it feels as though too much is trying to be covered in Taste of Darkness. Many events are skimmed over or quickly summarized, and there are several arcs in the story. It would have been better had these been split over at least two books instead of one. It would have allowed for more intricate development of plot and characters. There was a lot of potential for this series, but it came apart in this book.
Those who having been cheering on Kerrick and Avry will be happy with their ending. I know that I was. Still, I am disappointed by how conveniently things turned out for them. As they're in the midst of an epic war to bring peace to the world, I wanted things to be more difficult for them. I wanted to feel danger and celebrate them coming out of it. Instead, it feels like they continuously rely on magic and the Peace Lilies to save their friends instead of using their own wiles to keep out of trouble in the first place. In Taste of Darkness, the series becomes more of a romantic fantasy than the epic fantasy with romantic elements that I had come to love.