"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

24 March 2014

REVIEW: Taste of Darkness - Maria V Snyder

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.

My Review of Taste of Darkness:

Taste of Darkness was a phenomenal ending to an absolutely amazing and thrilling trilogy that I completely adored from start to finish. Maria V Snyder definitely doesn’t disappoint with this completely captivating finale with its engaging storyline, vivid world building and magical characters.

Since the last time we saw Avry she has overcome betrayal, death, deceit and loss. New enemies have arisen; friends have betrayed friends and old foes have returned to haunt Avry and her companions. The ending of Scent of Magic nearly killed me – the wait for the final book – this book – was so agonising. Snyder just adds to that agony with the heartbreaking opening of Taste of Darkness. She really knows how to wow and how to tug on the heartstrings! The opening chapter of this book completely messed with my emotions – it was just so incredibly sad. It was so heartbreaking and touching witnessing Avry’s agony at not knowing Kerrick’s fate (it was bad enough being a reader and not knowing!) Despite the sadness I loved seeing Avry’s vulnerable side (her clutching Kerrick’s shirt at night for comfort was just so heart-wrenching!); she is so strong and feisty – it was nice to see her with her guard down. I truly adored their relationship and Kerrick’s tough but loveable character. Definitely one of my favourite couples in fantasy!

The plot is full of mystery and suspense – scenes full of action, twists and turns and a whole host of surprises. Taste of Darkness picks up right where Scent of Magic ended; Estrid and her company frozen by Tohon and Sepp, Belen missing, Kerrick poisoned with Death Lily toxin and the world in turmoil after a fierce clash with the Undead. This book is even more dark and sinister than the others – full of danger and death. Other threats have arisen despite Tohon’s death; the Undead army under the command of Cellina still lurk hidden amongst the shadows. What disturbed me the most was the monstrous and macabre portrayal of the Skeleton King. It was so incredibly sinister and spine chilling that the scenes really did send a shiver down my spine and a little chill to my bones. His portrayal was so creepy – he definitely added another layer of danger and tension to an already suspense filled story. Not only does Avry have to deal with Undead armies, old grudges and new opponents but an old foe more dangerous than the rest; the plague. The plague rears its ugly head after previously terrorising the kingdom decimating the population and the land. Avry fervently attempts to search for a cure as the land is ravaged again by the deadly plague. Poison as a theme pops up again and again throughout the book; the Death and the Peace Lily toxin, the monstrous Skeleton King’s poisonous bite and the plague. Not only are Avry and her companions threatened by advancing armies but also poison, seeping in slowly surrounding them from all sides, threatening their lives. Taste of Darkness definitely piles on the tension and suspense with a story jam packed full of danger and threats to the characters’ survival.

The world portrayed is captivating, detailed and highly realistic despite its magical, fantastical setting. It is lush with detail, rich and alive; it’s easy to imagine yourself in such a world, as Snyder creates such complex and amazingly immersive landscapes. The green canopy of the forest takes central stage for the events of the novel – be it a bloody battle amongst the trees or a friendly dinner around the warmth of the fire. The forest is depicted as both a place of danger and safety. It’s so alive and enchanting full of intrigue and magic and the world just jumped off the pages. The worlds’ secrets are unfolded bit by bit – loose ends are tied up nicely. The nature and importance of the Death and Peace Lily’s – integral to the story from the very beginning and the origin of the new, deadlier plague haunting the land all become clear – the search for the answers adds another layer of suspense to a completely thrilling and gripping story.

One of my favourite things regarding this entire series was the equality depicted between men and women – be it regarding intelligence, courage or strength. Snyder creates a whole range of realistic characters – women both gentle and strong but who can fight side by side with men, be leaders and be the hero who saves mankind. Some parts in this story really screamed “Girl Power”; it was great. Avry is definitely the epitome of a strong female protagonist; so determined, loving and confident and so powerful and selfless.

Taste of Darkness was a completely satisfying ending to a wonderfully rich and compelling fantasy series. It was full of excitement, danger, intrigue and mystery. I absolutely loved it. The characters were so complex and well fleshed out; I truly loved (or hated) them before the end. One small little tinsy point – I am eager for more. The ending seemed that little bit rushed and I need more. Seriously - more. I am so sad to leave Avry, Kerrick, Flea and the gang and also sad to depart the world Snyder has expertly crafted. I’d recommend Taste of Darkness to any lovers of fast paced, vivid fantasy.

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