Book Review – The Healer’s Legacy

You know I love a good opportunity to share a new read I’ve enjoyed, and I doubly love it when it lets me rep a small-time author from an independent publisher. Because, let’s be honest, that’s where I’ll probably end up.

So let’s get started with today’s book review!

Title: The Healer’s Legacy

Author: Sharon (S.A.) Skinner

Genre: High Fantasy

Premise: An apprentice healer is on a desperate escape attempt from the warlord who has enslaved her as his concubine for the past several years. The bruises he’s left on her are still fading as she makes her way across the country with her only three friends in he world – her horse, her wyvern, and her panther, with whom she can telepathically communicate. They’re the only reason she’s been able to escape, and they might be the only reason she survives what is to come.

So I picked this one up on a whim at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, as I was shopping through independent SFF publishers. It comes from Brick Cave Media, a great company with some pretty cool titles, this being one of them. I believe this was Skinner’s second novel, and it shows a little bit in the details, which is why my score isn’t as high as I would like it to be. But seriously, for a first (or second) novel, it’s a pretty damn good tale to pick up.

First I want to suggest a few types of people who would like this book. Because of the main character and the positive female role models throughout the book, I definitely think feminists would have a great time with this one. In addition, anyone who loves animals or wants animal main characters in their book will go nuts for this. Also, if you like fantasy but aren’t a particularly big fan of violence, this would be a good pick – since the main character is a healer, there’s really not very much fighting at all, but what little occurs is well done. And lastly, I think new authors or struggling unpublished writers should read this, as you’ll be able to see what Skinner did right to land herself a well-deserved publishing credit.

So onto the book. I had a few issues with her writing that I had with my own – some of the characters were a little flat, and you can tell that this is the first in a series (by which I mean the story is kind of expository in nature and not a lot happens in terms of overall plot). But honestly, although I’ve caught a lot of flak from my alpha readers for the same thing, I don’t think it totally ruins the story here. Instead, we get a nice, gentle introduction into the world and the characters.

And believe me, the characters are the high point of the story. I love me some cute animal companions, and they are extremely well done in this book. Each of them has a definitive personality that somehow remains animalistic while also personifying them, and you can tell Skinner either did her research or has a lot of experience around animals.

I liked that the animal personalities weren’t too in depth, which was one of the issues I had with the human characters. A few of them felt a bit stereotyped, and one or two of them had such strong internal monologues that I felt a bit jarred – I wished I’d been given the opportunity to draw my own conclusions about them, per my previous post on limited, shallow perspective. But regardless, their motivations were clear and their interactions genuine, and I found myself liking a few of them (and disliking the ones you’re clearly supposed to dislike). Skinner has some room to improve on making her characters more conflicted and deeper, but obviously I liked them enough to keep reading.

The world so far hasn’t really been opened up, but rather exposed itself in a series of small details and scenes that I find pretty cool. And the overall plot – which has been hinted at but not illuminated quite yet – has a whiff of allure about it. So I’m pretty happy with my purchase and I’m looking forward to reading the next one whenever it comes out.

It’s an easy read, even if you don’t like fantasy, so I’d definitely suggest you pick it up!

Reed’s Rating: 7/10

Yours, starting on an award-winning small SF novel next,

-R.R. Buck


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