Monday, November 29, 2010

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (2.5 stars)

The Healer's ApprenticeReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Christian
Size: 272 pages

Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: September 14, 2010
ISBN-13:  978-0310721437
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.  This looked like a wonderful book, a great historical romance with a bit of fantasy flare to it.  It was okay, in fact the beginning of the book was pretty good, but it declined from the middle of the book on.  Keep in mind I approached this as a historical fantasy, I was not aware that the publisher was a Christian fiction when characters started setting aside action to wait for God to save them and then the Duke of the realm used his divine right as a leader to banish demons I was confused and irritated.

This is the story of Rose.  Rose is apprenticed to the Healer of the realm.  When the Duke's sons come for a visit; both of them are drawn to her beauty.  Rose knows her place in the realm and, as a Healer's Apprentice, does not want the attention of either brother.  When one of the brothers, Wilhelm, is injured Rose heals him.  Wilhelm and Rose are drawn to each other's personalities, but it cannot be.  Wilhelm is betrothed to a Princess whose identity will not be revealed until the evil mage is defeated.  Meanwhile Wilhelm's younger brother, a rogue of sorts, has started courting Rose.  Wilhelm struggles to keep his feelings for Rose under wraps while trying to hunt down the evil mage that plagues the realm.

This book started out pretty good.  It had a lot of a fairy tale feel to it, with a definite German tone.  You can't help but love the characters in the beginning they are all so sweet, pure, and innocent.  Rose is determined to be good and to have a life as a healer.  Rose can get to be a little much at points; she is pure to the point of not exposing her arms, not touching a man's hand, or wearing makeup.  But that seemed to be mostly cultural, so went well with the story. The writing is fairly well done and engaging; there are beautiful descriptions but the dialogue between characters is a bit stilted.  I was really enjoying this as a sweet historical romance with a bit of a fantasy flare to it...then we get to the second half of the book.

Keep in mind I did not know this book was released by a christian fiction publisher, so readers beware.  As the book continues God is mentioned a lot (I mean a lot a lot) and scripture is quoted.  Wilhelm is especially religious; all of which I don't have a problem with.  The problem comes in when the characters decide to stop taking action and sit on their bums praying for God to save them.  I was like "what is going on here?"..."Why are these wonderful characters waiting around for God to do their work for them rather than taking positive action themselves?"

Then suddenly things get even stranger; Rose is haunted by demons and speaking in tongues.  Wilhelm enters to save the day by using his power as a Duke to cast the evil forces out of his realm in God's name.  It all got very weird, was very predictable, and made me very uncomfortable.  I couldn't figure out why the author would drop such a sweet positive story and turn it into some weird parable of religious text.

Overall I loved the beginning of this book.  The characters are positive, sweet, and likable.  The romance between Rose and Wilhelm is well-founded and they have great chemistry together.  I hated the ending of the book, I thought the overpowering use of God as a solution to the characters problems and Wilhelm's sudden ability to make use of divine intervention were strange and distasteful.  So just be warned; this is a Christian fantasy and gets very preachy towards the end of the book.  If that's not your thing pick up a different book with sweet characters and wonderful romance; I recommend Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith or The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. This book is appropriate for all young adults and older.

This goes towards the following challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
The Healer's Apprentice 


  1. I would have never thought this be "preachy"...not my style. I actually wanted to read this badly but now I'm not so sure.

    By the way, I've awarded you with the Versatile Award. For more info:

  2. Hi Meghan,

    I guess if I was you I would read some more reviews on it to other people's perspective. The other reviews on Amazon are pretty positive, but most of them are from fans of this Christian publisher.

    I would just caution on the strong religious bent. I wish that the author had finished the book with the same tone as the beginning, the beginning was actually a pleasure to read...

    - Karissa