It was a little over a year ago that I first read a Melanie Dickerson book. I fell instantly in love with her gift for stories! This year I have resolved to read more of the books that have piled up on my To-Be-Read pile (island...OK, it's a planet!) and I am making good progress so far. The Healer's Apprentice is a retelling of The Sleeping Beauty, which is my ALL TIME favorite fairy tale.
Rose is a kind and gentle young woman with a gift for storytelling, and a passion for life and Lord Hamlin, however, he is already betrothed. She struggles find her destiny. She thinks she knows what she wants in life, but it isn't until she lets go and hands her future path over to God that she begins to feel peace. Wilhelm, Lord Hamlin, has never had a problem fulfilling his duty as the future Duke. But when he meets Rose his life is turned upside down and he is conflicted by the pull of his heart and his responsibility as his father's heir.
A sweet romance and a life lesson, that when we follow God's calling and do the right thing, He will bless our path. Although it may be in a way we least expect.
I am so glad I finally read this story and look forward on catching up on the rest of the Hagenheim series in the near future. Don't miss A Noble Servant, book 3 of the Thornbeck series, releasing in May!
Chivalry is alive and well in fourteenth century Hagenheim, especially for the lovely woodcutter's daughter Rose Roemer; serving dutifully as the town healer's apprentice, a wonderful opportunity to earn a salary and live safely within the castle grounds. The return of the Duke's two sons, Lord Hamlin and Lord Rupert, from two years of study at the university brings the entire town to the streets in order to welcome the handsome young lords back to Hagenheim Castle. Soon after his arrival, Lord Hamlin actually becomes Rose's patient when a painful encounter with a wild boar brings him to the healer's door. The young lady's gentle nature and unassuming spirit mesmerizes Lord Hamlin, even though he is soon to be married to an anonymous betrothed; promised to him at birth, but separated by the threats of an evil conjurer, Moncore whom Hamlin earnestly seeks to destroy.
Lord Hamlin's brother, Rupert has no intentions of distancing himself from Rose and blatantly seeks her undivided attention. Thankfully, the wily healer Frau Gerushcha counsels Rose to act wisely when it comes to Lord Rupert; hinting that there is a greater plan for the young maiden's life. Besides, it seems that the courageous Lord Hamlin is the brother who causes Rose's heart to stampede; that is, until he reluctantly encourages her to succumb to his brother's intentions. After dismal disappointments and failed attempts, life's circumstances bring these two faithful souls to their knees, where they ultimately discover that "with God all things are possible".
A lovely story that will engage the attention of all readers of any and every age!
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. :)
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.