Healer & Witch

 
4.3 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
782 0
Healer & Witch
Author(s)
Age Range
9+
Release Date
April 12, 2022
ISBN
978-1536219562
Buy This Book
      
Nancy Werlin’s first story for middle-grade readers tackles and transcends traditional fantasy tropes: can a young woman gifted with magic learn to manage her powers—and claim her strength—without violence? Sylvie and her mother and grandmother are beloved, trusted healers in their medieval French village, though some whisper that fifteen-year-old Sylvie and her grand-mere deal in more than herbs and medicines. Perhaps they’re a bit . . . witchy? After her grandmother dies, and an attempt to use magic to heal her mother’s grief brooks tragic consequences, Sylvie leaves her village in search of a teacher. The journey subjects her to strange alliances, powerful temptations, danger, and deceit. In the end, there may be only one wise woman Sylvie can trust in a world that would define her limits: herself. Beautifully crafted, this quietly powerful work for younger readers assures a whole new audience for an established author.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Healer & Witch
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked: Engaging fantasy of a girl who struggles with her magical ability. After the death of her beloved grand-mere, fifteen-year-old Sylvie leaves her small village, searching for a teacher to help guide her with her gift. The novel goes over how the women in Sylvie's family are known as healers. This is the 16th century when some considered this 'gift' witchcraft. Even Sylvie's grand-mere almost was burned at the stake after she was accused of being a witch. Sylvie though has a gift that transcends just healing.

Werlin does a great job showing 16th century France with its superstitions, small village life, and those who aren't all they seem. Sylvie's travels include Martin, the youngest farrier's son, who insists he has to come with her. There are scenes where not all take too kindly to people like Sylvie and accuse her of being a witch. Sylvie also comes across wealthy merchant Robert and wise woman Ceciline, who had a part in helping Sylvie's grand-mere escape.

Throughout this novel, Sylvie looks deep within herself trying to decide if, in fact, her gift is good or bad. This includes her questioning what others expect out of her. Should she listen to those like Ceciline, who tells her that she's, in fact, a witch, Robert, who says she needs to be married and not be open to healing, or to her inner voice that whispers she is a healer?

Quiet, introspective novel that has a girl search not only for a teacher to help guide her with her magical ability but within herself for her true purpose in life.
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Breaking Stereotypes and Expectations
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
In the opening pages, Sylvie’s healing magic works by seeing into people’s minds but there’s no one in her village who can train her to use it safely. Sylvie must leave home after rashly stretching her ability and realizing the harm she’s capable of inflicting on others. Her venture into the world takes her to larger French cities where she begins to learn how life works outside her small village. Sylvie visits actual cities like Lyon and Marseilles to keep things realistic and characters move about on foot, horseback, or wagon. The setting contrasts with the witchcraft practiced by several characters but don’t expect anything especially super magical to happen. It’s not a story full of spells and hexes as the magic is more subtle.
The plot tells of Sylvie’s journey to discover herself. She wants to use her abilities for healing as her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother have done before. The mistake Sylvie makes causes her to doubt herself and become reluctant to use her power. The search for a mentor finds her hiding her talents from others as some people will view her ability as a gift from God while others are more judgmental and will persecute her as a witch. The conflict with religion is a large part of the plot, which is ironic due to Sylvie’s devout belief in God. Sylvie is overly concerned with others’ opinions so perhaps her real quest is to reflect on herself and determine her own, true intentions.
The story is artfully written as the author is able to paint vivid images and evoke a myriad of feelings. “The chubby palm, graven across by a peculiarly long lifeline.” “There was no air, and Sylvie was a fistful of earth again, and the Hands that grasped her had clenched viciously.” The sentence structure and vocabulary are the author’s special talents as she crafts her enchanting. Much of the story develops within Sylvie’s mind so it’s important for readers to experience her complex thoughts and emotions.
What didn’t work as well:
I wish the author had shared more about Martin. The young boy accompanies Sylvie across France and offers different opinions and insights along the way. He’s leaving an abusive home situation and is excited by the idea of seeing the world. I expect there’s more going on inside his head but I wish I knew more about what makes him tick.
The Final Verdict:
This story shares Sylvie’s development as a witch and her hope to do good and heal others. There aren’t any evil spells cast but a contrast in witchy perspectives is shown between Sylvie and another witch. I recommend you give this book a shot.
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Healer & Witch
(Updated: April 09, 2022)
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked: Engaging fantasy of a girl who struggles with her magical ability. After the death of her beloved grand-mere, fifteen-year-old Sylvie leaves her small village, searching for a teacher to help guide her with her gift. The novel goes over how the women in Sylvie's family are known as healers. This is the 16th century when some considered this 'gift' witchcraft. Even Sylvie's grand-mere almost was burned at the stake after she was accused of being a witch. Sylvie though has a gift that transcends just healing.

Werlin does a great job showing 16th century France with its superstitions, small village life, and those who aren't all they seem. Sylvie's travels include Martin, the youngest farrier's son, who insists he has to come with her. There are scenes where not all take too kindly to people like Sylvie and accuse her of being a witch. Sylvie also comes across wealthy merchant Robert and wise woman Ceciline, who had a part in helping Sylvie's grand-mere escape.

Throughout this novel, Sylvie looks deep within herself trying to decide if in fact, her gift is good or bad. This includes her questioning what others expect out of her. Should she listen to those like Ceciline, who tells her that she's, in fact, a witch, Robert, who says she needs to be married and not be open to healing, or to her inner voice that whispers she is a healer?

Quiet, introspective novel that has a girl search not only for a teacher to help guide her with her magical ability but within herself for her true purpose in life.


Good Points
1. Engaging fantasy of a girl who seeks a teacher to help with her gift
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