I’m taking a break from the craziness of Realm Makers preparation to review Healers and Warriors, the newest release in Daley Downing’s phenomenal “Order of the Twelve Tribes” series. This was one of my most highly-anticipated indie releases of the year, and it did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, it was even better than I thought it would be.
First, cover and synopsis. (Full disclosure: I designed the cover. The story is even more amazing than the cover. Which, clearly, is saying a lot.) 😉
Spring is coming to Rylen, Ohio. Flynn Driscoll, Gwen and Alex Torrington are waiting to hear where they'll be placed for their internships.
Spring is also coming to the fey realm. Emma Novak is training to face a formidable foe. Before the new season blooms in England, Madison Collins will travel, to meet relatives she never thought she would.
She'll end up uncovering secrets she never knew existed.
The Order of the Twelve Tribes series continues to subvert expectations, raise the stakes, and deliver impressive character development in its third installment. With books that avoid predictability as skillfully as Healers and Warriors, it’s always difficult to dive deep into what makes them great without divulging spoilers…but I’ll do my best.
Book 3 focuses heavily on two of my favorite characters, Madison and Avery–both of whom, by the way, are perfect examples of how autistic characters should be written. Their autism is a natural part of their characterization. It doesn’t give them deus-ex-machina superpowers, but it also isn’t sidelined or treated in a stereotypical manner.
It’s not quite accurate to say that Madison and Avery are the “main characters,” however. I’d say that Madison’s arc, and Avery’s participation in said storyline, are the most central to the plot, but the rest of Downing’s stellar cast gets plenty of “screen time” as well. The arcs established for them in previous books are built upon in believable ways. We also find out more about the captivating mythology of the Twelve Tribes universe, and we get to know some intriguing side characters better. The best part of the book, however, is how Downing handles certain developments in Madison’s arc that have been foreshadowed ever since Book 1. From the beginning of this series, I’ve talked about how it swerves away from the tiresome tropes that YA authors can’t seem to stop themselves from leaning on. Healers and Warriors continues this tradition with Madison. Her interactions with her family in the aftermath of a major plot twist early in the book are refreshing, relatable, and best of all, not whiny or annoying. The story’s finale is both heartbreaking and beautiful, tying into the series’ over-arching themes of love and family.
Let’s face it–Book Threes go wrong all the time in YA series; usually because they’re treated as the grand finale where everything has to be wrapped up in a startling yet satisfying manner. Downing wisely has chosen not to limit this series to a trilogy, giving herself the room to properly develop the characters and the world. The Order of the Twelve Tribes is one of the only YA series of truly consistent quality that I know of in today’s market. It gets better with each new release. I can’t wait to see what Daley Downing has in store for us next.
Healers and Warriors is available now to purchase from Barnes and Noble. I’ll be bringing some signed copies of it along to Realm Makers (as well as the other Twelve Tribes books), so if you’re going, be sure to stop by my table to buy one!