Healer & Witch
Barnes & Noble
Published by: Candlewick Press
Release Date: March, 2022
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.
Cover art by Jade Zhang.
BEHIND THE BOOK
"Healer & Witch is being published now, but I wrote it in 1996. I had a clandestine love affair with it when I was supposed to be monogamously involved with a contemporary young adult thriller. Healer & Witch is a historical fantasy set in 16th century France for ages 9-12—in other words, it wasn’t remotely a YA thriller.
I didn’t care..."
For more: Nancy talks about the idea behind the book at The Big Idea at Scalzi.com.
Starred review for outstanding merit, 2023 The Best Books of the Year, 2023 Edition, Bank Street College of Education.
"Werlin’s new novel is cause for celebration—for its sleek, sharp prose; intelligent ideas; and precise characterization, to name but a few of its attributes ... Every sentence here pushes character and plot forward, so there’s plenty of momentum and suspense; but what is more unusual is the way Werlin prods characters (and readers) to think through ideas of faith and reason in making their own choices ... A refreshingly honest and elegantly written work of historical fantasy."
—Horn Book starred review
"Werlin’s first foray into middle grade is a thrilling and suspenseful experience; there are twisting reveals and adventure aplenty, though the story isn’t afraid to stop for lovely moments of quiet contemplation and recollection along the way. A budding, respectful romance and hints of deeper powers will have readers hoping for a sequel."
—Booklist starred review
"Gracefully explores themes of identity, family and belonging. Sylvie's journey of self-discovery and its accompanying themes of female empowerment are timeless."
—Shelf Awareness, starred review
"Sophisticated ... [a] properly inventive, historically respectful story with a touch of magic (and romance) in its realism."
—The Wall Street Journal
"A delightful page-turner that will entice readers of historical fiction and fantasy alike. Thoroughly enjoyable and engaging, filled with magic, mystery, strength, and love."
"Told in an assured third-person voice, Werlin's gentle reflection on trauma and healing, the ethics of power, and seemingly dual natures explores Sylvie's place in the world and her relationship to those she cares for."
Scroll down to read the first 60 pages of Healer & Witch for free on this website or click to download the PDF from Scribd (note: registration required on the Scribd site for download).