CBA YA Fairytale: Review of The Healer’s Apprentice

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.

The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

This book is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. I believe it’s one of the first CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) fairytale books. While the story is a lovely historical fiction for YA readers, I think it’s a great book for adult readers as well. I really like fairytale retellings, and I’m excited to see this trend moving into the Christian market.

Both lead characters, Lord Hamlin and Rose, are well portrayed and strong. Both have deeply rooted motivations for decisions that are made in the story, and both are honorable. Rose shows in the story that sacrifice is sometimes (always?) the greatest form love can take, and I was impressed with how Melanie wrote Rose’s character with such deep emotion. The book has a happy ending, of course, and I love a good love story!

The only part of the story that I might have had a problem with, but was pleasantly surprised by,  is the part in which Rose, like Sleeping Beauty, is under the sleeping spell. Magic is often hard to write about, especially in a Christian book.  The way Melanie wrote this scene it worked; the spirituality of it fit into the medieval time period and the magic/spirituality was set up throughout the story. I can see how this part would have been hard to write, but congratulations to Melanie for pulling it off.

If you like fairytales or fairytale retellings, I recommend this one!

Have any of you read other CBA fairy tales? What else is out there in the Christian market?

Has anyone else read The Healer’s Apprentice? What did you think?

Have you read fairytales published by general market publishers? Why do you think there’s been a trend toward publishing these stories? What makes a fairytale attractive to a reader today?

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12 Comments

  • I haven’t read this one or any of the CBA fairy tales, though I did read a modern retelling of the Christmas story by Joan Hochstetler that was amazing.

  • Another good one Rachel. I just recently read The Healer’s Apprentice and really enjoyed it. I generally enjoy the retelling of fairytales. The only series I did not care much for was the retellings written by Gregory Maguire (probably most famous for his book Wicked). They contained content that I found distasteful.

  • I love fairy tales. In general, I think most people who enjoy fairy tales do so because of the classic good overcoming evil and the girl getting the guy at the end, which is usually a part of a very happy ending. Happy endings are key. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • I think Tanya’s right about the classic good over evil attracting people to fairy tales. It’s also fun to see how people retell the stories we know from childhood.

    I downloaded Nook for my netbook this weekend and The Healer’s Apprentice was my first purchase. I’ve only read the first chapter, but enjoyed that first bit of the story. I’m looking forward to reading more (possibly while my daughter’s at dance class today — love my netbook for taking everywhere!).

  • Jill Kemerer says:

    What a pretty cover! The book sounds right up my alley. Would you recommend it for early teens? I’d love to share this with my daughter.

    Adding it to my to-be-read list!

  • I just bought The Healer’s Apprentice recently and am looking forward to it. I have not read any CBA fairytale retellings, but I’ve read a lot of general market fairytales. I like both the retellings and the new fairytales. I like fairytales because I like to see the one who is oppressed win out over the oppressor. That’s the story I’m waiting to see unfold fully when Christ returns. I like to see the royal heir throw down the usurper and get back the throne that was stolen. And I like to see the beleaguered people released from slavery.

    Recent fairytales I’ve loved? Everything by Shannon Hale. I also really enjoyed The Amaranth Enchantment, by Julie Berry. I haven’t read her recent release yet, Secondhand Charm, but am hoping to get to it soon.

    RJ Anderson is a Christian writer from Canada. Her books are fairy stories, which to my mind are different from fairytales. Her stories are about the fairies, iow, not about damsels in distress. I’ve really enjoyed, Spellhunter,and Wayfarer, and I appreciate the Christian pictures she’s put into her general market books.

  • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

    Morgan, I agree with you about WICKED. I read the first half and got rid of the book. Yuck. Not for me.

    Jill, it does have some black magic in it. I think it would be okay for your daughter, but I’m not sure. Perhaps you should read it first?

  • Lucy says:

    Eh, the Chronicles of Narnia have some black magic too, just not very explicit. By all means, read it first, but it could be a good discussion point, yes?

    Sounds like a fun book. :)

  • I’ve heard great things about this book and am intrigued by the fairytale concept in Christian fiction…haven’t seen that combo before. I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and it sounds like this would deliver.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • KC Frantzen says:

    I’m so glad to see your review and that the word is still getting out about this book. I read it last fall and found it enjoyable. :) Melanie did a good job of researching the time period. I felt like I was there.
    She also developed the secondary characters well.
    Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t necessarily have known it was “Sleeping Beauty” until close to the ending. I was too wrapped up in the story!
    She did a great job and it’s her debut novel! WOW.
    Way to go Melanie!
    Way to go Zondervan!!
    What’s next?

  • Yay to Melanie! I’ve been wanting to read it. Glad you posted about it:)

  • Larry Carney says:

    This is quite fascinating; after all, some of the elements of a fairytale (of there being a world beyond the merely physical, and realizing that which is mystical and magical inherent within us all) certainly share parallels with the spirituality of the reader. I think this may even hold true for some fairytales which have more “dark” origins; those stories dealt with the fallen nature of humanity, leaving the audience to wonder if the greater horror was that the witch in the gingerbread house wanted to eat Hansel and Gretle, or that their own parents conspired to abandon them in the woods.

    Fairytales often feature the struggle of the protagonists to find truth, beauty, and meaning in a world seemingly devoid of grace; after all, what awoke Sleeping Beauty except for love? These are qualities which allow such stories to resonate even today, to reach an audience beyond the shrill shouting of a debased popular culture; and since these are things which people hunger for, if a publisher can help reach people with positive messages and make a buck, I guess it too selfish of them :)

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