The Secret Healer
Author: Ellin Carsta
Date of Publication: 1st May 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
The first thing I will say about this book is that the description is misleading.
When she meets handsome Johannes—an investigator hired by the Church to bring her to justice for sacrilegious acts—she becomes drawn to the very man who could destroy her.
I was imagining, as I began to read, that an Inquisitor meets girl of his dreams, who may or may not be a witch, and has to wrestle with his conscience as she strives to prove to him and those around her that she is innocent. That was what I wanted to read. That isn’t what happened.
This is extremely romance light, which wasn’t a massive deal for me. Once I realised that this wasn’t the pairing I thought it would be, I was happy to go along with just plain historical fiction. Although I thought the feminism was nice (if a little easy at times) and the main villain was deliciously disgusting and hateful, I felt the translation really held me back from enjoying the novel fully.
In a historical fiction I like immersion. I’m not saying I like everything to be in the correct dialect and grammar of the time – but the translation of language here sounded so modern that I was often thrown from the story by it. It’s a shame, because I really liked a lot of the characters. The women were more fully formed than the men, and more characterisation, less plot, would have been really nice. The amount of things which happened meant that many players were uneven in their thoughts and actions.
This is a fun, quick read. However if I were Ellin Carsta, I would seriously consider changing translator, or else giving the translator a little more creative freedom to write less literally and more naturally – the loss of pacing and authentic feeling language definitely dampened my enjoyment of what otherwise could be a great, only partly fictitious, look at women healers in the 14th Century.