Monday, 8 November 2010

Book Review and Trailer: The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The absolutely beautiful cover!
Publisher Summary

Two Hearts. One Hope.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 begins 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.

My review and thoughts

When I saw the cover and synopsis for this book I was instantly excited about finding a new YA historical fairy tale retelling but finding out there were Christian elements woven into it too was even better. As a Christian teen it can often be hard to find clean historical romance and The Healer's Apprentice combines all my favourite genres into one. What could be better? I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed.

Rose is a poor woodcutter's daughter who has received the honour of being chosen to be the healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle. Whilst she is thrilled at the chance to better herself and get away from her mother who wants her to marry a disgusting old man, Rose is terrified of blood. As if life is not complicated enough, she becomes friends with Lord Hamlin who quickly becomes enamoured by her dark beauty and personality but they can never be together because they are socially too far apart and he is engaged to a lady that he has never met.

Melanie Dickerson
Right from the first chapter I found myself immersed in a medieval world full of knights, ladies, lords and castles. We meet Rose and her best friend Hildy (who I would gladly have as a friend) as they gather in the marketplace with the rest of the villagers trying desperately to catch a glimpse of the handsome young Lords. It makes you realise that they are just like young girls of today in a fairy tale like historical setting.
Although it is told in the third person, the character's voices and thoughts shine through just as if it was told in the first person which was really effective and made everything seem so real. I could smell the herbs used by Rose and her teacher Frau Geruscha, hear the hoof beats of a gallant Knight as he rides his noble steed, see the vivid colours of finely embellished ball gowns and feel my heart pumping with Rose's when she is falling in love. The third person narration follows the characters of Rose and Lord Hamlin (Rupert) alternately, which I loved as it was great to get inside the heads of both the main characters. It also allowed me to enjoy the period details of two different worlds.

The characters are extremely likable and realistically flawed, both Rose and Rupert try to do the right thing and like all humans make mistakes along the way. Rose is sometimes timid and is self conscious when mixing with people above her at the castle but she is also very strong willed, fiercey loyal, kind, passionate and opinionated. Unlike most girls of her class she has been well educated by Frau Geruscha and can read. Although she wants to marry for love, a dream that is almost impossible to come true for girls like herself Rose does act like girls would in those times because she knows what is expected of her and what is proper or a young lady.
         Rupert is the man of every girl's dreams as he is handsome, strong, caring, dutiful and truthful. He is known as a man of honour who feels a strong sense of duty to the people of Hagenheim- to put their safety and interests above those of him and his heart. He is on a dangerous mission to hunt down Monocore, the evil man who is trying to demonise his secret betrothed, Lady Semolina. Over the years he has learnt to guard his heart and eyes to be faithful to his betrothed but Rose changes this and his world begins to shake.
The blooming romance between them is just so sweet and the way that it slowly progressed made it very believable and realistic. Everything about it is clean and just right for teens like me with parts that make your heart pound. I found myself desperately hoping for them to be together all the way through despite their social differences and that true love would conquer all so they would live happily ever after!
I thought that there was exactly the right balance between beautiful descriptions, action. adventure, intrigue and romance. Something was always happening and at times there was a lot of tension and anticipation but at the same time Melanie Dickerson managed fantastic character development too.
As well as the main storyline, there were also several sub plots which made the story richer and deeper. I especially enjoyed Rose's best friend Hildy's romance and its problems although I won't say any more than that about to revent spoilers.
The Christian threads that were woven through did not overwhelm the story and fitted in really well with the time period so don't think that this will affect any ones enjoyment of the book regardless of faith. However, I think that the characters and their faith will be an inspiration to young Christians.

Despite being loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, The Healer's Apprentice was more of its own story with many twists and turns along the way making it uniquely special in every way.

Verdict: The Healer's Apprentice is a beautiful fairy tale set in Medieval times with believable characters and a touching and sweet romance that is sure to warm the hearts of readers. I would highly recommend it to girls and women of approximately 12+ .It is a book that I feel I will re-read many times and treasure, it is definitely one of my favourites of this year. This is a amazing debut from Melanie and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Book Trailer

Without a doubt, this is the best book trailer I have seen! It's like a mini-movie: the costumes and settings are beautiful and it captures the esscence and magic of the book perfectly. I like that the same girl has been used on the cover as in this and she really does fit Rose's character. A must watch- I love it!


  1. I want this book, it sounds really interesting! But that book movie was... awful. It was quite clear that the narrator couldn't understand a word of English...

  2. I don't agree about the trailer being awful but I can understand about the narrator and her accent because of some of the expression that doesn't fit the sentence in her voice. I think she probably does understand what she is saying, it was probably translated.

  3. I'm so glad I read your review! I have this one out from the library now. I'm happy to hear this one is a clean romance. I think clean romances are totally underrated!


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