Book Review: "The Healer's Apprentice" by Melanie Dickerson

Summary from 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.

Historical YA fiction is becoming a huge trend lately and I'm pleased to see that it's even found it's way in Christian YA fiction. I had been looking forward to this release because it seems to be one of the first books in this genre in Christian fiction. I'm hoping that more authors in Christian fiction will follow the trend.

Rose is an apprentice to the village healer who is one day visited by the Duke's son. The two form a bond but due to the him being bound to marry another girl, Rose finds herself being drawn to his brother. However there are those who don't want this union to take place and Rose also finds herself being pursued by an unknown attacker. I enjoyed learning about the healing procedures in the book and I really liked seeing Rose take action and not be too fazed out from the gory details. The chemistry between Rose and the brothers is quite good. She's a really wonderful character and I would actually have loved to have read more about her growing up.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt that it was a little preachy at times. I only say this because if a general market YA reader who is not a Christian picks up the book, they might feel they are bombarded with religious overtones while reading. I only bring this up because I do read general market YA and I know how those authors write. I know many people who loved this book and recommend it for teens to read but I don't know how many of those people read GM YA to compare it to. Also some of the talk about faith seemed a little disproportionate with the time period.

Overall this was a fun read and a different take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. I didn't find it to be a predictable story at all. In fact it was fun trying to figure out who was who from the fairy tale and discovering the root of the real story. I really liked Rose's character and I thought that would make a good role model for young readers. This is a good debut from Dickerson and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson is published by Zondervan (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. I keep seeing this cover popping up, and didn't ever make the connection that it was Christian YA historical fiction. Definitely want to give this one a read.

  2. As a Christian who writes YA novels in English and fantastic short stories in Spanish, I just write the story I'm given, without trying to turn it into a work of proselytising or preaching. One's faith comes through in the imagery and the values highlighted in the story.

    Please visit my blog and leave a comment. Thanks!


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