Healer & Witch

Healer & Witch
Age Range
Release Date
April 12, 2022
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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.

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Healer & Witch
(Updated: April 09, 2022)
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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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