The Healer's Apprentice

By Melanie Dickerson


"God, if you have made a way for us to be together," he whispered, "then let me awaken her with this kiss of true love."

*cue bluebirds and Disney music*

Just kidding.

Influenced by well-known fairy tales, The Healer’s Apprentice—a finalist for the 2011 Christy Award for Young Adult Fiction—beautifully blends historical and fantasy fiction. Rose, the daughter of a woodcutter, becomes an apprentice to the castle healer. This appointment is a glimmer of hope for Rose, as she does not want to marry the lecherous man her mother chose for her in hopes that he will raise their family’s social status.

At the castle, the Duke’s sons, Lord Hamlin (the future Duke) and his younger brother, Lord Rupert, vie for Rose’s affection. Hamlin is chivalrous and kind, but he has been betrothed to a woman whom he has never met. Rupert is the more adventurous brother, but he tones down his wild ways to prove himself to Rose.

However, if Rose as a commoner were to marry either brother, it would mean scandal for the Duke’s family. Rose must deal with her feelings about both men, as well as with the unsettling possibility of being alone and unloved.

And on top of all this, looming in the background of Rose’s blossoming (no pun intended) new life, there is something stalking her that wishes to do harm to her. This adds a note of danger to an otherwise lighthearted story, but it is handled appropriately. I don’t want to give away too many more details, for fear of spoiling what will, before too long, be obvious to any reader who’s even remotely familiar with the world of classic fairy tales.

If I had been given this book as a preteen or teenager, I would have gobbled it up and read it three or four times over again within the next day. The historical period was, I thought, described perfectly, with knights, lords, ladies, chivalry, and of course, a good old-fashioned romance. That romance may be a bit predictable and clichéd, but as I said it is perfect for young adults because boundaries are respected and God remains the foundation and central focus of the inescapable relationship that blooms. And accompanying all this is a sense of fantasy and wonderment at the spiritual realm, which was appropriately handled and respected.

In short, The Healer’s Apprentice is what I consider a perfect slice of romance, fantasy, mystery, and adventure for readers young and old.

Image copyright Zondervan. Review copy from the reviewer's personal collection.

Esther J. Archer works in the IT Department for a Christian university. In her off hours, she can be found reading, knitting, and trying to figure out the last algorithm for the Rubik's cube.

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_The Healer's Apprentice_ and _The Merchant's Daughter_ are two of the most satisfying reads I've ever enjoyed. And that's saying something coming from this avid reader. For much of the first part of this novel I sincerely wondered how the author would ever connect the dots to the expected conclusion. Even after I had figured out much of the mystery in _The Healer's Apprentice_, it was written well enough that I still believed the characters' point of view; it was still believable that they hadn't figured out certain facts. These books will be at the top of my recommended reading list when my daughter is a bit older.
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