The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (Book Review)

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.” – Melanie Dickerson, The Healer’s Apprentice.

I’ll tell you, I actually read the reviews on Goodreads for this novel before picking it up. (See? I swear, reviews are helpful!), but I noticed that a common complaint was that this was too clean. I have to say… what a weird thing to complain about when reading a YA, Christian book. Granted, those who commented on the piety of The Healer’s Apprentice hadn’t noticed right away that it was in fact a Christian YA, but after discovering the genre of this book you’d think they’d accept the general cleanness of the story.

This brings me to my first point. This book, lacking in rampant sexual tension and swearing to get across the point, was great. If it sounds impossible that a book can be clean and still good, well let’s be honest, you’ll probably still not like this book.

The Healer’s Apprentice is a sweet book. It’s set in medieval Germany, so it is accurate that the majority of people are indeed Christian. While the book never states what denomination the characters are, it is hinted that Rose and the rest of Hagenheim are Catholic. Which, would be historically accurate. The Healer’s Apprentice also upholds Christian ideals, talking a lot about honor, placing an emphasis on chastity, and the characters pray intermittently throughout the story.

This book is much more obvious in how it is Christian, compared to the Narnia series, which I never even realized were Christian when I first read the books. There’s an aspect of fairytale magic as well that I think was incorporated well. An evil conjurer uses demons to bring about the magic, which is a great fusion of Christianity and magic. If you don’t know, magic is most definitely frowned upon by God, because the source of the magic comes from demonic powers. “Magical” things that happen because of God are called miracles and are done in His glory.

Rating: 4🌹 out of 5🌹

Why: I read through The Healer’s Apprentice fairly quickly, and as someone who wants to write Christian YA, I rather enjoyed the story. I liked seeing how Melanie Dickerson incorporated God into a YA, because some Christian fiction can be VERY heavy-handed when it comes to bringing in the Christian elements. As I stated before, I like that magic was incorporated into the story as well, since this is based loosely on Sleeping Beauty. That’s actually where I’m taking off points though. It wasn’t clear to me at all that this was based on a fairytale. I actually googled more than once ‘what is The Healer’s Apprentice based on?’ because it wasn’t clear to me at all. Now, Dickerson does say that this is loosely based on Sleeping Beauty, but if you’re going to base a story on another story, maybe make it clear what the original story is. Besides the main character being named Rose (maybe a hint to rose thorns that grew up around Sleeping Beauty’s castle after she was asleep?) there isn’t a lot until the end to even explain how this is a Sleeping Beauty story.

Ending Thoughts: If you’re a mom looking for a clean read for your kids, this is a great book. It’s fun, light, and as a bonus, it teaches that if a boy/anyone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, you can say no! I recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, clean read.

With love and wishing you a blessed day, Storm

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