I was excited when I got a chance to read this book because I've read Melanie Dickerson's "The Merchant's Daughter," and I loved it. This book did not disappoint. I started reading it at bedtime, expecting to read a quarter or so of it before going to sleep. Later, around 4 AM, I put the book down with a happy sigh. I only got 3 hours of sleep, but it was worth it: SUCH a great book! This book is categorized as YA, but any adult who enjoys Christian historical romances will love it. I bought all of Melanie Dickerson's remaining novels for e-reader (that I know about), and I can't wait to read them. :)
Think I'm really going off this kind of Romance.....
September 10, 2014
My third read by Melanie Dickerson (although the first book she wrote) did provide some interesting background, as two of the successive books have as leading characters the children of the protagonists. I confess to being perhaps a little obsessed with the subject of surgery and the medical profession in the middle Ages, so Im a big fan of Cadfael and have a liking for the mystery series The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton for its details about surgical practice and medical procedures if nothing else.
In this sense, The Healers Apprentice was satisfying, and in some ways a break from the norm, because the female healer was not accused of witchcraft or heresy as is the common misconception and trope in many fictional stories.
On the simplest level this was a good story, which, aside from the inclusion of the evil magician, stripped away a lot of the fantasy content to create a more historical backdrop for the story of Sleeping Beauty. That may not be according to everyones taste, and sometimes the resemblance to the fairy-tale was rather remote, but generally in this story the shifting of the setting to fourteenth century Germany seemed to work.
The element of Romance is arguably, essential to any good fairy-tale, or fairy-tale adaptation, yet I personally have to say I am rather going off romance stories at the moment, especially those of the fluffy, mushy and clichd kind.
This novel did seem to be an offender with its gorgeous heroine and wonderfully handsome, dashing- and of course muscular hero. In other ways Rose and Wilhelm were strong and interesting characters, but in this way far too typical of the genre.
Perhaps inevitably for the genre, some parts were cliched and some incidents hopelessly convenient or a tad predictable.
Also, their actions were at times frustratingly inconsistent with Rose being madly infatuated with Wilhelms brother one minute, then turning round and considering him the most evil person who ever walked the earth the next. Admittedly, she had a reason, was of that invariably capricious breed of people called a teenager.
Her attitude towards her parents I found even harder to swallow. Like with her being convinced that her parents could not possibly have loved her because they sent her away as a child. Or might it not have been because they wanted to protect her from the evil magician intent on subjecting her to a lifetime of torture, the central basis of the plot, and all that?
Even Wilhelm ended up looking down on them as cowardly and selfish for such a thing. I mean seriously, after all they went through, I rather think they ought to have appreciated the reasons for Roses parents choice to let her go. But no, all they do is whinge and condemn, making their response seem contrived it itself, and them immature.
Did they learn nothing at all?
Also, a few historical issues perhaps warrant mention- like the suspiciously out of place presence of the American chipmunk in the forests of Medieval Europe, and some elements of what appeared to be modern clichs and judgements. Such as Rose determined to marry for love, rather than practicality, or looking down on those who saw women only as breeding machines, or her being more enlightened than the general populace who supposedly attributed almost every ill circumstance to demons.
Altogether The Healers Apprentice was a good and generally clean (aside from the odd kissing scene that verged on the inappropriate- or just tiresome) story for young-adults. Perhaps also in could provide a more wholesome alternative to the fairy tales that present an ambiguous picture of magic as something which can be used for good. I just prefer my medieval stories with a little more substance.
Being a healer's apprentice affords Rose many benefits. She reads Latin, writes stories, knows how to use herbs to heal, and earns an income that allows her to avoid marriage to a bachelor of her mother's choosing. Rose's problem is that blood makes her squeamish. When she must treat Lord Hamlin, the future duke, it isn't just the blood that makes her unsettled. His handsome features and personal integrity draw Rose's interest, in spite of his high social status and well-known betrothal. Lord Hamlin is committed to fulfilling his duty. Rose is committed to becoming a capable healer. Despite their friendship and attraction, Rose and Lord Hamlin must each learn to walk their own path and follow the One whose plans are greater than their own. Read more in The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson.
The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson is based loosely on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. The story moved very fast in the beginning and right at the end, but for the majority of the time it was well-paced with intriguing characters and an engrossing story that felt original in spite of its fairy tale basis.
The Healer's Apprentice is marketed as Young Adult reading and had definite YA overtones that were mixed with Middle Age Catholicism. I was creeped out by the strange pagan rituals and demonic possession scene. Had I known those were in the book, I wouldn't have read it. Given its Sleepy Beauty basis, I suppose this shouldn't have been as surprising to me as it was. With an obvious Catholic/Christian perspective, the name of Jesus prevails over the demons. However, for me, that didn't negate the disturbing scenes. Had that part of the fairy tale been creatively changed somehow, I probably would have given this book a five star rating. The creepiness factor brings it down to three. The Healer's Apprentice is well-written and engaging, but I wouldn't read it again or recommend it to any of my friends.
I have to admit that I only read this book because my 10 year old son (who is now 11) told me that I had to read "The Captive Maiden".
Now you're wondering why_
Once upon a time, I signed up to win a copy of Melanie Dickerson's "The Captive Maiden" and I won. I was surprised because I don't usually win when I sign up for giveaways. I do it to show support for the author.
But apparently God meant for me to read this series!
I was not impressed when I started reading the book. The cruelty was almost too much for me and I stopped reading. Then my son picked up the book, looked at the cover and read the back. After that, he demanded that I read it. This was such a rare occurrence (usually he ignores the books I buy or teases me about it) that I knew I had to give it a try.
And again, it must have been God's leading.
These books are the absolute BEST versions I've ever seen of what are typically know of as "classic" fairy tales!
I've read reviews that complain about the strong themes in these books and I've read reviews that say they wish more from the original tales had been incorporated. And I am here to tell you that, in my opinion, they are wrong.
Melanie Dickerson deals with hard-core themes, yes. But she does it in a way that is honest and realistic while maintaining, what some may feel are ridiculously, high standards of modesty and decency - but I find refreshing in a world of bared bodies and brutish language. Our children need to be aware of these things and how to deal with them, especially since they are very much a part of the world we live in today. As much as I would like to shelter them from everything bad or wrong in the world, they have to know that evil exists and they have to know how to confront it!
I feel that Melanie Dickerson presents these harsh issues with grace and discretion.
And as for having more from the original tales, I think it is amazing how well Melanie weaves the pieces of the classic fairy tales through her own stories - using them to help tell the story and reveal the hidden truths slowly throughout.
"The Healer's Apprentice" is a masterpiece of reality blended flawlessly with fairy tale!
Melanie Dickerson's characters are simply astonishing - well written, colorful and embodying the very same values and flaws of the heroes and villains that inspired them. And, as much as I would love to say that she always paints the bad guys as bad - it would not be true to life if that were the case.
Evil is deceptive and tricky and it is not always easy to see it for what it really is.
The plot is so well-conceived, it is difficult to believe this is the first book she wrote after fifteen years of not writing. It flows beautifully and there is absolutely nothing I can think that would add to it.
And now I have three more books to look forward to - "The Merchant's Daughter" and "The Fairest Beauty" right now and "The Princess Spy" releases soon!
Based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I bought this entire series for my 12 year old daughter for Christmas. Unfortunately she can't read them as they are not appropriate for younger girls. I guess because we homeschool, my children have maintained their innocence longer than other children because insinuations of rape and/or premarital sex do not figure into their worldview. I also did not realize that it is romance -ugh! I want my daughter to focus on the Lord not some 'Prince Charming'. I have tried to read the book to check for its appropriateness but just can't get past the contrived storyline and trite characters. So sorry I wasted money on this Christmas present which my daughter cannot enjoy.