Publishing Date: January 1st 2013
Genre: YA, High Fantasy
Page count: 414
I have yet to find an author – apart from David Gemmell and perhaps Stephen King (whom I have not read and thus it is only hearsay) – that has done what Snyder has done. Snyder has delivered Poison Study in entirely new packaging. Avry is basically Yelena except cooler and much more self-aware. Kerrick is basically Valek, except not as totally bad-ass. We even have a pair of monkeys that fulfill the role of Ari and Janco.
So is this a bad thing? I don’t understand why people are saying it’s too similar to Poison Study. Isn’t that what we’re after? Haven’t we basically been crying for something just like Poison Study but different enough to be its own story?
Snyder delivered. When people said they wanted something else from JK Rowling, she gave them the Casual Vacancy, which couldn’t be more different from Harry Potter if it tried. Meanwhile, everyone secretly hoped it was another Harry Potter book. This is exactly what Snyder’s done: Poison Study 2.0.
So in to Scent of Magic we find Avry and Kerrick parting ways so they can go on and save the world from the evil grasp of Tohon, the life magician who is using zombies to slowly take over the survivors of the deadly plague that wiped out two-thirds of the population and every healer except Avry. The world thinks Avry is dead, so she disguises herself as Irina as finds a place in the military. This section here reminded me strongly of Inside Out and Outside In, Snyder’s young adult dystopia. Avry inserts herself complete with a sergeant’s rank and begins to train Estrid’s soldiers on how to move through the forest like Kerrick, without making a sound. But how long will her disguise hold, and when it does fail, how quickly will Tohon come to claim her, as he does in her dream?
Synder’s writing isn’t as flawless as I would have liked, but then again I am incredibly picky. That, and Snyder is experienced and talented enough to generally not make jarring errors in judgement. For the record I read an arc. There were a few times when I felt jarred by a character’s sudden unexplained actions or reactions, and a few times I felt terribly underinformed about the scene or what Avry was thinking or feeling. Case in point: Avry takes a knife to the belly, and it isn’t until several paragraphs later that any pain is mentioned, or blood. Apart from a few scattered incidents similar to that, I hugely enjoyed Snyder’s writing. Her use f modern slang works extraordinarily well on her worlds – I thought maybe it’s because the books are told from Avry’s first person point of view, but then I remembered that Scent of Magic is also told in Kerrick’s third person point of view. The slang just works.
Avry is an awesome character. Unfortunately she’s reached the point in the book – because it’s a sequel – where most of her growth was in Touch of Power, so in Scent of Magic she’s going from being pretty smart, wily, and brave to even more so. There’s not much character growth – on the plus side, this isn’t as important as the book mainly revolves around plot and Avry’s personal missions. There’s an influx of new characters, which is cool because we get to see different kinds of magicians. We get to see inside Kerrick’s head, which is a nice change on the romance aspect as well.
Overall Scent of Magic is what Snyder does best: high fantasy with a strong young adult female lead. It’s extremely similar to Poison Study, so if you like Snyder’s other work, you’ll most likely enjoy this for exactly what it is: another rollicking fantasy adventure. Snyder has delivered exactly what I wanted and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
An advance reader copy was kindly provided by the publisher.