Release Date: September 10th 2010
My Goodreads rating
Two Hearts. One Hope.Capturing both a fairy-tale and historical feel, The Healer's Apprentice is a sweetly told tale of a young woman that must decide whether she should take control of her own destiny or let herself be guided by a greater power.
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.
Rose is a thoughtful girl, genuinely interested in becoming a healer to help others and to escape the future of an empty, loveless marriage to a man she barely knows. Rose had me very curious because her character was a blend of innocence and intelligence. Unlike many women of her time, Rose is knowledgable in the art of storytelling and medicinal herbs; however, despite her academic knowledge, she was very naive in certain situations and this frustrated me at times; her naivety prevented her from seeing things that were crystal clear to the reader.
But as the story progresses, Rose wises up and realizes exactly what's going on and who she's dealing with. Lord Hamlin, the other main character, is noble, honest and has never strayed from the path that has been set before him. He's never questioned anything...until he meets Rose, of course. Their steady descent from "just being friends" to falling in love with each other was gradual and so very sweet. Watching them dance around each other, yearning for each other while trying to keep their feelings hidden (because of societal rules) was distressing to say the least!
Dickerson's writing style was fluid, lovely and atmospheric--I really felt like I was walking along with Rose as she did her daily chores through town. The medieval German setting was excellent to read about and very well-researched. My only criticism for this novel is that I wished Dickerson could've delved even further than she did into the medical aspect of Rose's apprenticeship. I would've liked to have seen Rose mixing herbs and potions, to actually read about the processes of how these things were created. But this is a minor complaint on my part.
Charming and full of passion, The Healer's Apprentice was a pleasurable read that historical fans will enjoy and fans of fairy-tale retellings will find intriguing. Dickerson's debut is actually very loosely based on the tale of Sleeping Beauty but there are very few similarities--the author certainly put a unique spin on the original story. It also has some light Christian undertones that guide the story smoothly and it doesn't come off as preachy (if that's something of interest to you).