Scoop Review of Books

Immortal Love

Book Review
Warrior’s Touch by Deb E. Howell (Kristell Ink Press, paper, $14.99)
Reviewed by Rachel Stedman

warriors-touch-front-cover50webWarrior’s Touch is the second book in the Touch Series by New Zealand writer Deb E. Howell. Set in an alternative world, the Touch Series follows Llew and Jonas as they struggle to survive and to love, despite the many barriers they encounter.

The series has a wild-west tone with a steampunk vibe, so if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s Firefly or Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea, then chances are you’ll enjoy this book.

Llew is a rare creature – a Syaenuk,  able to heal herself by touching living creatures. Only problem is that she drains energy from those she touches. Her touch can kill crops, animals – even humans.  Unsurprisingly, this power isn’t much appreciated by others, but Llew’s a tough individual, and throughout the first book in the series (Healer’s Touch) she proves hard to kill. 

And then there’s Jonas. Blessed with superhuman strength and speed, he’s a Syakaran – the last male of his kind and the nemesis of Llew’s race. But by the conclusion of Healer’s Touch, Jonas and Llew have fallen in love.

As Warrior’s Touch opens, Llew is recovering from her encounter with Jonas’ brother, Braph, and is pregnant with Jonas’ child. Unfortunately, they don’t have long to celebrate domestic bliss. Jonas is expected to play stud and sire more Syakarans. And Llew, an unwelcome immigrant in a strange land, must hide her pregnancy. She’s unsure of Jonas too – although she carries his child, surely he’d prefer his own kind?

All too soon, tragedy strikes. To make matters worse, psychopathic Braph reappears, just as Aris, Jonas’ general, plays an unexpected role.

I totally enjoyed Warrior’s Touch. While at first I felt confused by all these races. I mean, why have ‘Syaenuk’ and ‘Syakaran’ when they both sound so the same? Surely, two totally different words would have been easier for a reader to remember? But then, in a deeply satisfying moment, I realized: Sy-Aenuks are the polar opposite of Sy-Akarans – two halves of a whole. And when you get these two halves and put them together, well then you get an immortal. But the immortals have disappeared … Or have they? (Don’t you just love it when you suddenly realise there’s more to a story-world?)

I connected with the two main characters, though with Jonas more than Llew. Llew is small and bossy, but Jonas, despite his warrior-like personality, is surprisingly sympathetic. It’s always a pleasure to relate to a character, and it’s even more fun when I have a favourite!

The lack of quasi-medieval pageantry was another plus for me — Llew and Jonas were refreshingly working class and I particularly liked the wild-west tone. I found Warrior’s Touch to be a refreshing change from common fantasy tropes. It’s fast-paced and entertaining read.

I really hope Jonas and Llew find their happy ending in Magician’s Touch!