Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 259
Date Published: September 2010
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: I won a copy of this book in a giveaway from Nora at Finding Hope Through Fiction. Thank you Nora!
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
Two Hearts. One Hope.
Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.
When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.
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Rose has always worried whether she could really do the job that she was apprenticed for. The daughter of a lowly woodcutter, she works for Frau Geruscha, the healer at Hagenheim castle. She gets a chance to see if she can handle the job when the Duke's oldest son is injured while Frau Geruscha is away. Her beauty and the compassion in her eyes catches the attention of Lord Hamlin, and they begin to develop a friendship that neither had expected. They both try to guard their hearts--after all, Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a young woman in hiding from the evil Moncore--but they find themselves harboring feelings that go deeper than friendship. Meanwhile, evil is prowling the town, as Rose tries to avoid the malignant attention of Peter Brunckhorst and Lord Hamlin struggles to find and kill Moncore so his betrothed can come out of hiding

Rose seems like a young woman with a lot of conflicting emotions. She longs to be free of her family's expectations to marry for their benefit, and yet her way out--to become a healer and support herself--scares her a little. She isn't sure she can handle the pressure and the responsibilities that come with the job. Rose is no-nonsense at times, but is also your typical young lady trying to figure out her place in the world. 

Lord Hamlin, the Duke's oldest son, has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders as well. He knows what the future holds--he will be the next duke when his father dies, and he is already betrothed to a young lady he has never met in order to bring peace between their families. He is distrustful of his younger brother's intentions toward Rose, but he encourages her when his brother suggests that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. In all, Lord Hamlin is a chivalrous, brave, and compassionate character--the ideal character for a future leader, but almost too good to be true.

The tension between Lord Hamlin and Rose is believable and sweet. I started to get a hunch about Hamlin's hidden betrothed about mid-way into the book (which turned out to be right), but I still really enjoyed the story. The villain of this story was mysterious, frightening, and surprisingly complex. His use of disguises and multiple aliases kept everyone on their toes. The story also has strong Christian elements--the characters read the Bible and pray, and the villain uses demons from the spirit world that are cast out by the hero calling on Jesus's power. In the medieval setting of this story, these elements seemed quite believable. And although it was inspired by the story of "Sleeping Beauty", the way the author made the story her own made it more interesting and more realistic. I didn't realize the subtle connections to the beloved fairy tale until I read the interview at the back of the book with the author.

I very much enjoyed The Healer's Apprentice. With its wonderful elements of romance and suspense, along with a great historical setting, it is an excellent book to curl up by the fire with.

Related Linkage:
Reading Challenges: Christian Historical Fiction Challenge


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