Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Healer

The Secret Healer
Ellin Carsta
Terry Laster (Translator)
AmazonCrossing, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Amazon Lender Library
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

The Secret Healer is a historical fiction novel set in the 14th or 15th century--I honestly can't remember when.  The main character, Madlen, is a young girl training to be a midwife, but her mentor dies tragically before she can be trained and Madlen is devastated.  However she goes to help a rich woman whose pregnancy is in danger, but the baby has already been lost and Madlen must do what she can to save the mother.  It isn't long before she is charged, setting off a chain of events that causes Madlen to flee her home and seek shelter with an aunt she has never seen before. It isn't long before she's helping others who need help and the official Inquisitor is looking for her.  All Madlen wants is to help others, but instead she finds herself being hunted down by her society because she is a woman.

This story was incredibly difficult to believe in any way.  First of all, the characters are never fully developed--not even Madlen.  There is a lot of quick jumping over parts or skimming through a section, going in and out of points of view, and focusing on miniscule characters or events that you expect to come back but never do.  This could be in part because it's a translation, but I'm not sure because I feel like I should be able to see the characters develop and understand them more, but I don't.  They go from one idea and suddenly switch to the opposite with not explanation or development towards that change.

Also, Madlen and her aunt are given many liberties.  Her aunt lives alone, as a widow, and makes her own money.  This is perfectly acceptable, even though she has been a widow for many years and would most likely have been shunned or not allowed to work--even at being a seamstress--without her husband.  She has an awful lot of power for a woman at this time.  I would have guessed that this may have made more sense in the 1800s or early 1900s, except for the fact that Madlen is being persecuted for cohorting with the devil due to her knowledge of healing.

I did finish this book, but there was a lot of skimming towards the end.  It ends exactly as you would guess a fluffy read would.  If you're looking for a historical fiction, this one would probably be a bit disappointing because it isn't at all believable.  There is some romance, but it was rushed, just as the rest of the novel was. Maybe in German it would read differently, but I'm not sure.

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