My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Shifter by Janice Hardy
This was a YA I had been wanting to read and a friend lent it to me. It opens in a place that reminds me of eighteenth century Europe right down to various dukes invading and conquering their neighbors. It opens in conquered Geveg centering on Nya, a young woman living hand to mouth after the death of her parents and grandmother during the war (that the Gevegians lost). Her sister Tali is a little luckier, having a magical ability to heal people by drawing out their pain and dumping it in a stone slab. She has entered the ranks of the League of Healers. Nya can heal as well but she has a rogue power. She can't get rid of the pain. She can only shift it to others. She knows never to do this.
Unfortunately for Nya, finding work is next to impossible and she's attracted the attention of someone who might be the Duke's men. There is a rumor the Duke would make people like her into assassins which she wants nothing to do with. Even more unfortunate, she shifts pain into a guard, Danello, trying to get to way and he later wants her help to save his father by having him and his brothers take the injuries that would kill their father. Soon afterward a ferry accident takes all the league of healers has to offer but when she checks on Tali, Nya realizes something is wrong at the League, that all the non-Baseeri (i.e. the conquerors) healers are disappearing.
Fearing for her sister's life, Nya makes a deal with the devil, to help a pain merchant, who will in turn help her help her sister. However, something is going wrong with the shifted pain. Worse, it looks like Tali and the other healers are being betrayed from within and if it gets out, war might ensue. Nya has to save her sister and her people.
It is a well told story and it had a strong female protagonist but, like I've said way too many times this year in YA, it's a good story but I didn't connect with the characters. I liked it but I didn't love it. It is book one in a series but thankfully it finished this arc by the end of book one. I hate that new trend where they just trundle to a non-ending and pick up in book two so that's a plus. It's a good book and I think YA fantasy readers will enjoy it.
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