Monday, October 11, 2010

Melanie Dickerson's The Healer's Apprentice ~ Reviewed

The Healer’s Apprentice
By Melanie Dickerson
ISBN 978-0-310-72143-7

Review by: Michelle Griep

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 beings 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.

The Healer’s Apprentice is a young-adult sweet love story with a bit of intrigue. If you’ve ever wondered what life is like in a medieval castle, then this is the book for you. And if you’re in to handsome, strong, integrity-filled heroes, then this is definitely the book for you.

Lord Hamlin struggles with following the call of duty or his heart, and a very real struggle it is. He chooses duty…which just so happens to end up fulfilling his heart’s desire. This fella is every girl’s dream man.

Rose is sometimes timid, sometimes bold, but mostly tries to do the right thing. She makes some mistakes along the way, which makes this character all the more believable.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to my teenage girls. Not only is it a history lesson but a great example of purity before marriage as well.

Bonus Review:

I’m thankful to have received a review copy of this wonderful enchanting novel written for a youthful audience which I thoroughly enjoyed. I haven’t had this much fun since I watched Beauty and the Beast with my kids. Rose, the main character in The Healers Apprentice, reminds me a little of Belle, in Beauty and the Beast’s. She’s avid reader, well educated, loyal, passionate, poor and opinionated.

Opening of the book, “The townspeople of Hagenheim craned their necks as they peered down the cobble stone street hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duke of Hagenheim’s two handsome sons.” I was quickly drawn into this great fairy tale from the start. Can you see the ladies pushing through the crowd to catch a look at these handsome men?

The author’s characters are likeable and promptly draw on your heart strings as their situations quickly unfold. It’s April 1386, in the heart of the middle ages. Lord Wilhelm and Lord Rupert have returned from studying abroad. Rose and Hildy, her best friend, were in the crowd along with everyone else trying to see these men. Hildy, a romantic at heart yells to her friend Rose to try to catch these men’s attention. Rose is level headed and practical, she quickly reminds Hildy that Lord Wilhelm is betrothed and Lord Rupert must marry an heiress since he’s the second born son.

Lord Wilheim had been betrothed since an early age. He had always guarded his heart, his eyes and was in control of his situation. But since he’d met Rose, his world had been rocked. A lot was expected from him. He couldn’t let a beautiful poor woodcutter’s daughter get the better of him. But he had to be honest with himself, “For the first time in his life he wished he was an ordinary man, instead of Wilhelm Gerstenberg, Earl of Hamlin, the future duke of Hagenheim.”

Lord Wilheim had been in wild adventures most of his life trying to capture Moncore, who has been set on killing his bride he’s never met. Her parents have had her in hiding to be kept safe from this evil doer.

Lord Wilheim was exasperated because, “Moncore had eluded him before. The fact that one man had continued threatening lady Salomea’s safety despite Wilhelm’s best efforts, was a frustration like he’d never known, a splinter he couldn’t gouge out no matter how hard he tried.”

Rose knew her status also what was expected of her and yet struggled to find her way, her gifts and how to be loyal to God and her family. Rose was the eldest child of a poor woodcutter. She wouldn’t be in the running for either of these men’s affections. Rose did pray, “O God, make me like Frau Geruscha, (the healer)…because one day she would be expected to take over as healer. If Rose returned home a failure, her mother would torment her until she accepted one of her suitors-a desperate widower with nine children, an old man with no teeth…and her newest Peter Brunckhorst, his greasy black-and-white hair plastered to his head.”…her mother had told her this was her best offer…”why was he the best she could hope to get? Because she thought she was stupid? Mean? Lazy? Unworthy of being loved? Because she was poor?...She’d never experienced love. Most married people didn’t either. Could she hope for more and marry for love or not marry at all?

I adored that Melanie Dickerson had the reader in the middle of the action. The author also had the right mix of adventure, battles, romance and a mix of scenery which all added to the mystery and fun of the book. I liked the depth and complexity of these characters as their spiritual fight was revealed. It was refreshing to see characters struggling as they attempted to live out what they read in the bible and do what God asked them to do. Rose and Wilhelm had a personal relationship with God. Both of them struggled with their emotions, and how not to be taken over by them Melanie has several supporting characters’ that you grow fond of and get drawn into their dilemmas too. It’s suspenseful in parts. I found myself holding my breathe until the situation was resolved. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. The author had me guessing.

I was totally taken into this story and read it in one day, to the lack of doing my dishes and dinner. I had to find out how this ended. I wasn’t sure of the ending, just when I thought I had it all figured out she would add another wrinkle. This is Melanie Dickerson’s debut novel, wow!! I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I’ll definitely be waiting to read it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

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