I've read the first two books in this series -- read my review of Scent of Magic here -- and while it doesn't pack the same punch as the Poison Study series, I've enjoyed it. So does Snyder manage to satisfactorily tie up the loose ends and provide all the necessary information to make the magic system work?
Powerful healer Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought a plague and survived. She took on corrupt King Tohon and defeated him. But now her true love Kerrick is missing and Avry fears he's gone forever. Yet she faces a more immediate -- and deadly -- threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With the territories' armies in disarray and the dead not staying dead, Avry's powers are needed more than ever.
So that's the blurb. And once again, the lovelorn couple are yanked apart by circumstance and foul deed, as Kerrick disappears right at the start of the book. It wasn't all that long ago I read the second in the series, which was a great advantage. While I rarely read a series straight off -- once I start spotting an author's foibles I find it really interferes with my reading enjoyment -- the fact I could clearly recall the plot of the second book, Scent of Magic, stood me in good stead and I'd recommend that you don't leave an overly long gap between these books if you want to get the best out of them.
Snyder has an entertaining cast of supporting characters which I enjoyed throughout the series and liked how she gave most of them their own story arc within the tale -- no mean feat in a trilogy of average-sized books. Avry's bossiness has grated at times, but in this slice of her adventures she wasn't so much at the hub of all the action as in the last book, which I'd begun to find annoying and on the edge of believability.
The action rolls forward at full tilt from the start of Taste of Darkness and the pace doesn't let up until right at the end. Indeed, there is a great deal of stealthy sneaking through the forest as fast as possible... But it all hangs together and I found this book grabbed me more firmly than the other two as I genuinely wanted to know what happened to the characters.
As for the final denouement, yes, it worked. What I really liked about this particular magic system, was that no one really knew all the consequences of the plants' magical properties. Which, in my opinion, is as it should be. I get a tad tired of books where the magic behaves like a well-trained dog. Magic should be difficult to control and never fully predictable -- and this is an aspect that has run through this readable, entertaining series. If you enjoy strong heroines rushing around woods in medieval fantasy settings full of incident and adventure, you could do a lot worse to banish those winter blues by getting hold of these books -- starting at the beginning of the series with Touch of Power.