Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers' League apprentices, Nya's skill is flawed: She can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she'd be used as a human weapon against her own people.
Rumors of another war make Nya's life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she's faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive?
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Janice Hardy is also the author of The Shifter and Blue Fire, the first two books in the Healing Wars trilogy. She lives in Georgia with her husband, four cats, and one nervous freshwater eel.From School Library Journal:
Grade 8–10—In this first book in a planned trilogy, 15-year-old Nya and her younger sister, Tali, who were orphaned during the recent war that nearly destroyed their city, both have the gift of healing. Unlike Tali, though, Nya can't harmlessly shift the pain she takes from the sick and wounded into enchanted pynvium metal. Instead, she must shift it from person to person, a dangerous talent that she keeps hidden from the ruling Baseeri and from the Healer's League where Tali is an apprentice. Scrounging to make ends meet, Nya resorts to odd jobs and the occasional theft to stay alive. When a young soldier discovers her secret and implores her to save his dying father, Nya is forced to choose between protecting herself and acknowledging her ability to save others and perhaps her entire city. First-time author Hardy has written an inventive coming-of-age tale about a likable young woman whom readers will cheer throughout her exploits. Her appealing narration chronicles her expanding worldview as she progresses from a self-interested survivalist to a reluctant heroine to a determined rebel. Fantasy fans and those who just love a good story will enjoy this fast-paced novel and eagerly await book two.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
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