K. L. Phan
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
[ TL;DR - I'd pay to read the other books, worth a read if you like fantasy, medieval type setting, a little dabble into Steam punk technology, and a damsel who would rather be a boy than a girl. ]
For a freebie book (got it while it was free), I hadn't expected much. I've been through several freebie books with promising summaries only to realize they're first person. Having grown up on Anne McCaffrey, I can say I really don't like first person. Much less first person, present tense in some cases these days. However Healer's Touch, by Deb Howell, delivers a wonderful story in the traditional third person, past tense, story book style of writing. The POV is done from three main characters.
We start out learning about Llewella, a girl who was forced to dress like a boy because she reminded her father too much of her mother and he wanted a boy, not a girl, since he was the blacksmith. She learned about smithy practices rather than skills most girls her age are taught. When he disappears one day, she's forced to live on her own in a world where women aren't permitted property rights. The smithy is taken away from her, she abandons her home because of people giving her the wrong sort of attention now that she's a girl on her own, and becomes a little thief on the streets.
She's not necessary an innocent by the time we find her in the book; she's lived on the streets for some time and has sacrificed her virtue for safety. Her relationship with men is caustic, thinking men will only offer something they have for what's between her legs. Llew, easier to pass by as "Lou", finds herself in one unfortunate event after another at the beginning of the book. The author's way of introducing her power of healing to the reader. Llew can siphon energy from all living things into her body to heal damage done to her. However she's not skilled enough to stop herself and ends up killing an old man who tried to rape her. She's later reported to the Farry (town guard) that she killed someone (the wrong person) by a "friend", Kynas, who was trying to save his own skin.
The book harps on the fact women are subjects and it's rare to see a female criminal. She's dressed in a skirt and blouse, then hung, only to resurrect herself off the energy of flies, carrion birds, and other such lifeforms that tried to consume her dead body. Unfortunately, the process happened in the middle of a very public area and caused a scene. People were terrified of her as she ran through them, shucking off clothes to don over sized male clothes to make it easier to get away.
We're introduced to the party she'll travel with shortly after this adventure and learn she's not just an Aneuk, but a Syaneuk - a powerful, rare type of healer that no one would stop to possess for various reasons.
It's a very interesting book with flashes of steam punk contraptions in the way of spiderbots siphoning blood to convert them into power gems and metal bracelets used to harness these gems to throw bolts of electricity. Less emphasis on the steam punk contraptions though in comparison to knives, arrows, and swordplay. This IS a fantasy book with traces of steam punk, just not as much as I'll expect to see in the following books.
The reader is coaxed along with bits of vital information about what a Syaneuk is, why the Immortals were divided into two races, and why her mother is held captive in another city: she's also a Syaneuk.
There are a few problems in the book where the author sort of trudges along and skips over some vital clues to give the reader a sense of "what the heck is going on". A few times I was distracted by the overuse of a misspelled word and occasional run on sentence. With a little more editing, this book could be polished if attention was directed towards proper subject focus and sentence arrangement. There are several instances where Howell chances her POV from Jonas to Omniscient Narrator and then back. That said, she does it far less often than most freebie books I've seen.