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The Healer's Apprentice

by Melanie Dickerson
261 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by White Rose

A fairly predictable fairytale read, but an overall good story with Christian morals.

Plot

Rose is a woodcutter's daughter who is apprenticed to the town's healer, Frau Gerusha, though the fact that she feels sick at the sight of blood does not bode well for her career. Still, she is glad she is in training for a respectable position, as it gives her the liberty to turn down all the men her mother tries to set her up with, including a wool merchant who seems intent on hurting her, in hopes of an advantageous match. But when Rose catches the eye of both of the Duke of Hagenheim's sons, in spite of her lowly place in society, her world starts to turn upside down, especially as Lord Rupert’s attentions get stronger.

Lord Hamlin, oldest son of the Duke of Hagenheim and heir to the dukedom, has been betrothed to the Lady Salomae of a neighboring region since the lady was born, but as she has been placed in hiding because of the threats of a wicked sorcerer, he has never seen her. All his life Lord Hamlin has prepared himself to his duties of marrying Lady Salomea and ruling his region, and he has devoted himself to hunting down the evil Moncore so the lady can come out of hiding. Now that he has met Rose, though, he isn't sure his predetermined destiny is what he wants. Torn between his love for Rose and his duty to his family, to his people, and to God, Lord Hamlin does all he can to check himself but still look out for Rose as a sister. But is it enough? Or will they both learn that all things really are possible with God?

Morality

Most of the characters live very moral lives, and look down upon immorality. One main character is described as not acting very virtuously where women are concerned. Lord Hamlin's relationship with the Lady Salomae is also satisfactorily resolved.

Spiritual Content

Christianity is the regulated religion of the region, though not all people follow its precepts. Rose, Lord Hamlin, and Frau Gerusha are seen to have a strong faith.

There is mention of sorcerers and curses and the demonic forces; the villain does try to attack Rose with these things, but Frau Gerusha and Lord Hamlin take spiritual authority and cast out all the attacks.

Violence

A man tries to sexually assault a girl but does not succeed, and later the man is punished by her brother and boyfriend by beating. A character drowns. A possible suitor tries to harm Rose, and holds a dagger to Frau Gerusha's throat. Lord Hamlin is hurt by a wild boar and receives a very bloody wound. There are two instances of wounds being stitched up that are described, but not too graphically. A villain is killed by a sword going straight through his body.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Herbs are administered for medicinal purposes. Wine is drunk at different feasts, and there are a few mentions of people having drunk too much.

Sexual Content

God's plan for marriage and sexual purity are viewed as right in this book. However, some of the characters choose to live that part of their lives in their own ways, including one asking Rose to be his mistress, but this is seen as wrong. There is an instance where a man tries to sexually assault a girl, but he does not succeed and is later punished.

There are several displays of affection shown through kissing (mostly on the hand or forehead, a few times on the lips), hand holding, hugging, etc. Some of it is a bit much, in both amount and often description of how it makes the characters feel, but any time where it might lead to moral impropriety the characters push back.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

There is mention of unchivalrous behavior toward women, and sometimes of riotous behavior after drinking too much wine.

Conclusion

This book is supposed to be the author's "realistic" take on the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, though it is more based off of the Disney version than the original tale. As such, it really is rather predictable. You can guess the end from near the beginning. However, it is more how the story unfolds than how it ends that provides its charm. The author describes the Medieval European setting very well, and gives a hint of what life in that region may have been like in those days. The main characters can be a bit predictable, too, but some of the secondary characters are rather pleasant. All in all, it was a nice light fairytale read with Christian morals, and was fairly entertaining.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 3 stars
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