Saturday, December 11, 2010
Healer (The Brides of Alba)
Author: Linda Windsor
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult – 16+
Genre: Christian Historical Romance/Fantasy
# of pages 384
Publisher: David C. Cook
Year of Release: 2010
Part of a series If yes, 1 of ?? (Brides of Alba)
Rating: 2 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes but with reservations (for an older audience)
Description: In the time of King Arthur, two families are at strife, the Gowrys and the O’Byrnes, driven by the greed and bitterness of one man, Tarlach O’Byrne. But, even his oppressive reign cannot stop the prophecy that his family will be divided. For twenty years, Brenna of Gowrys has been in hiding with her lone companion, a wolf. She has been waiting for the day the two clans will be reunited, and she can openly use the gift God bestowed on her, the gift of healing. When she finds a man of unknown origin injured and left for dead presumably by one of her own she uses her gift to nurse him back to health. But, an unexpected thing happens…she falls in love. Will their love be enough to fulfill the prophecy of peace before evil overtakes them all?
Review: Windsor did her homework thoroughly on researching the Medieval period and King Arthur, who also appears in the story. She provides definitions and character bios at the end for further reference. She does a remarkable job of storytelling using rich descriptions and building the characters of Brenna and Ronan as both well-rounded and enduring. The violence is fierce at times reminding us of the brutal spirit of the time period. The characters are passionate in love and conflict. But, however blessed and in God’s will Brenna and Ronan’s romance is within the story, it is still one for an older audience. Please use caution with those under age 16.
Rating: 2 for mature situations and violence
Positive: Brenna chooses to put God first and seeks Him in her decisions. Even though Tarlach, Ronan’s father and king of the O’Byrne clan, murders her family, she only shows him the love of Christ. Through her actions, God uses Brenna to change the lives of others.
Spiritual Elements: The Gowrys believe in and worship the one true, God. The Gowry women, Joanna and her daughter Brenna, are accused of witchcraft when in actuality they have the gift of healing, using only natural medicine and working miracles through the Holy Spirit. They also posses the gift of prophecy, hearing God speak to them through dreams and visions.
Many in the O’Byrne clan are superstitious and worship other gods including Tarlach’s daughter-in-law, Rhianon. She and her maid use dark magic to obtain what they want. Their dealings end up causing several to be possessed with demons. The other gods and the One true God are at odds with each other in the story. Scripture flows throughout.
Violence: The story begins with bloodshed as a jealous and vengeful Tarlach and his warriors come to claim what he believes is his, Joanna, queen of the Gowry’s clan. Tarlach beheads her husband and kills every other person that stands in the way. He even brings his young son, Ronan, to witness the massacre, which haunts Ronan for many years. In addition, there are suicides, burning of villages, and more blood shed.
Language: H*ll, d**n, by the gods.
Sexual Content: The O’Byrne brothers joke about Caden (the middle brother) and his wife Rhianon’s, reputation of being loud lovers. Sex is implied throughout the story but not described. Brenna is taught by other healers about the physical difference with men. As Brenna takes care of Ronan alone, she must deal with his nakedness maturely. She uses herbs to make him impotent in order to keep herself from harm since she doesn’t know if he is friend or foe yet. As he returns to health, they joke about this, but he is unaware that she has drugged him. They do fall in love but marry before anything happens between them.
Other: There are several mentions of ale, wine, and drunkenness, Caden goes into a drunken rage and fights Ronan.
Recommendation: The book deals with mature content. The scene with Brenna taking care of Ronan is a fairly long sequence. His anatomy is referred to on more than one occasion even though the author does a fine job of using descriptive yet not crude wording. It’s a coming of age story that deals with sexuality, and younger readers will probably not be ready for the subject matter. I think the book can be enjoyed more fully by an older audience, 16+.