"On a warm April morning, a week after the terrible day on which Grand-mère Sylvie died, Sylvie walked away from her home...She did not look back and she did not cry. She did not deserve tears.
She had made a terrible mistake."
- from Healer and Witch
Sylvie's Grand-mère has always had a strange, unaccountable gift for healing, able to save lives when Sylvie's mother cannot. But Sylvie has never seen this ability--or even the stranger power she herself has inherited--as witchcraft, or even as dangerous. Not until, in the wake of Grand-mère Sylvie's death, she seeks to heal her mother's grief, and instead steals her memories of Grand-mère Sylvie--and of Sylvie herself.
Sylvie is determined to find someone to teach her how to properly use her gift so that she might return her mother's memories. With Martin, the farrier's son, by her side, Sylvie sets off into the world beyond her tiny, rural hometown. But sixteenth-century France is a dangerous place for a girl with odd powers, full of questions and inquisitors and those who would use her gift to their own ends. Sylvie must decide what life she is willing to lead--and who, in all the world, she can trust to show her her way.
Healer and Witch is an exquisitely written, beautiful historical fantasy novel that weaves many disparate threads into a single, stunning storyline. Although I initially picked up this book for its lovely cover, Werlin's writing pulled me in instantly: simple and unadorned, it perfectly evokes the time and Sylvie's character as a girl who is far from naive, but nonetheless is largely ignorant of the world. Sylvie's journey toward understanding, self-discovery, and in a way independence in a land that would rather stifle, confine, and condemn her for her abilities and simply for being a woman weaves the heart of this book, giving the story an emotional depth and complexity that truly make it shine. The setting also feels particularly well-imagined, including the characters who Sylvie meets along her way. Overall, I highly recommend Healer and Witch to readers ages ten and up, particularly those who like historical fantasy or enjoyed the depth and writing style of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy.