Friday, September 17, 2010
The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
Have you ever dreamed in color? Have you ever fantasized about forbidden love? This fairy-tale retelling was a bold and beautiful story with a spectrum of characters, places and plot twists which gave me a great escape inside its pages.
Colorful characters make up the cast. Lord Hamlin is the quintessential noble and handsome hero, and Rose is the sweet, unassuming heroine with a steel backbone. Secondary characters like Hildy, who I'd want as my best friend, and Frau Gerusha, a wise and caring mentor, added depth to the foreground plot of romance. The dark villain Moncore sent chills down my spine and kept me in suspense. And the contrast between the chivalrous Lord Hamlin and his cavalier brother Lord Rupert added dimension to the plot.
Set in medieval Germany with wonderful period detail of clothing, food, architecture, and dance, the book transported me the way a good dream does--making me feel like I'd been there and shared the experiences. I could feel the cold stone of the castle, smell the rich pine scent of the woods, hear the hoof beats of the knights' chargers on the road. Medieval feasts and festivals, music, and townspeople hawking wares in the Marktplatz all delivered me to an authentic story world.
But above all, I was drawn by the yearning between two hearts embroiled in forbidden love. Rose is the daughter of a lowly woodcutter, but has gained the favor of Frau Gerusha, the town healer. Serving as her apprentice, Rose must tend Lord Hamlin's hunting injuries one afternoon. Despite their mutual love at first sight, both are too honorable to pursue their longing for the other, knowing that Lord Hamlin is betrothed to Lady Salomea, a mystery figure kept in hiding from the evil conjurer Moncore. Rose feels she could never hope to be worthy of royalty with her low-born status. What happens made me believe in the impossible--that Fairy Tales can come true.
Filled with the grandeur of knights and ladies and epic romance, this heart-warming story will charm both young and old.