The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson is something of a Christian fiction retelling of Sleeping Beauty based in medieval Germany (forgive me, I think I have been saying Cinderella. The story made a lot more sense once I realized it was based on Sleeping Beauty. 🙂 ) There are some changes to the original story but some elements remain the same.
Rose is the daughter of a woodcutter and is an apprentice to the town healer. One day one of her patients is none other than Lord Hamlin, son of the duke. They are attracted to each other, but as they are from different classes of society, they can’t think of a relationship. Even if they could, he is engaged in an arranged marriage to someone he has never met, whose parents have her in hiding because an evil sorcerer is after her. It becomes Lord Hamlin’s job to find the evil sorcerer and do away with him before the wedding, but he can’t quite catch him.
Rose, meanwhile, is pursued by Lord Rupert, the younger son of the duke. He’s a bit of a rake, but tries to convince Rose that his love for her has changed him and his intentions are honorable. She doesn’t love him but is flattered by his attentions and believes his promises of change.
Rose soon has to face two disappointments: she discovers Lord Rupert is indeed a rake, and the couple who raised her are not her real parents. Plus she is not so good at the job she is apprenticing for and is dismayed at facing a long, lonely future in it.
Knowing this is based on Sleeping Beauty, you can guess who Rose really is and how it all turns out after a few more bumps in the road, including encounters with the sorcerer.
(Spoiler alert in this paragraph): Since this story is written without the benefit of fairy godmothers and true love’s kiss that overcomes a sleeping spell, the author had to come up with a different dilemma for the duke son’s to rescue Rose from, and this is the part that is a little off for me. One of the reviews on Amazon says that the sorcerer sends demons into Rose, and I would have had a problem with that since Rose is a believer. But that is not what he does, yet it does involves demons that Lord Hamlin then has to cast out from where they are.
I have to say I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as The Merchant’s Daughter, based on Beauty and the Beast. This is Melanie’s first book, but if I had read it first I probably would not have gone on to read the others, so I am glad I read The Merchant’s Daughter first, and I am looking forward to The Fairest Beauty based on Snow White. Nevertheless I did enjoy the story to a degree and appreciated especially Lord Hamlin’s character. Both Rose and Lord Hamlin learn to do the right thing despite feelings and to wait on God’s timing.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)