I’m very pleased to have a publication day post on the blog today as the fifth novel in Helen Pryke’s Healers series comes out. I’ve read all these books and can thoroughly recommend them.
Over to Helen to tell us a little about the books:
“It’s hard to believe it’s over, but The Healer’s Legacy is the final book in the Healer series. Five years, and five books later, I wrote ‘The End’ for the last time. It was a bitter-sweet moment, as the healers, the cottage, and the Dragonfly Grove have been such a constant part of my life.
It all started in 2017, when I had the idea for a story of a woman who came across the skeleton of a baby in her garden. As I started writing, she evolved into Jennifer, who has problems with alcohol and her marriage, and her desperate mother, who is so worried about her daughter that she suggests Jennifer goes to stay in her great-grandmother Luisa’s cottage in Tuscany. This became The Healer’s Secret, the first book in the series.
I had already set up the prologue with Agnes in the 1300s, and had the plot all laid out in my mind. One story, one book. But then Luisa, who should only have appeared for a paragraph or so, demanded that her story be told. And what a story! Her heartbreaking secret, her strength in an abusive marriage, her desperate desire to do anything to save her children, took over the whole of the first book. Jennifer still had much to resolve, and I wanted to see how she would grow over time, so I continued the story in book two.
The Healer’s Curse takes us back to the origins of the healers. Agnes, a servant in England in the 1300s, is betrothed to Ted. But the year is 1348, and the plague is about to break out. This is her story of how she flees across the country, making her way to London with a young stable boy, Bob, and how they end up on a ship to Genoa. There she meets Riccardo Innocenti, the Conte de Gallicano, and begins a new life in Tuscany. But there is a darkness that threatens their safety.
Jennifer’s present is entwined with the past, when she keeps having visions of a young girl. After learning Agnes’s story, she realises there is a curse on the family, and that she is the one who must save them.
Although the series is historical fiction, there are also elements of magical realism. The dragonflies in the Grove, the healing properties of the silver-leaf plant, the legend of the dragonflies bestowing healing powers on humans, and the shadowy ghosts from the past that only a healer can see, all add to the magic of the stories.
Books three and four, The Healer’s Awakening and The Healer’s Betrayal, follow the lives of Sara and Morgana Innocenti.
1880. Sara has no idea of her heritage as a healer, until the day she follows a dragonfly and comes across the abandoned cottage in the woods. Determined to learn everything she can about them, despite being forbidden by her strict parents’, she is helped by Bernardo, the elderly groom. As she discovers more about her ancestors, long-hidden secrets come out and tragedy is waiting around the corner.
1614. Morgana has been deaf since the age of 8, after a childhood illness. At 16 she is already a skilful healer, but a deathbed confession and the threat of a centuries-old vow of revenge throws her life into turmoil. Forced into a loveless marriage, she lives in fear of the witch hunters making their way to Tuscany. After her daughter, Gemma, is born with a birthmark on her stomach, she knows she must do everything she can to keep the witch hunters away. But someone is about to commit the ultimate betrayal, and Morgana must sacrifice everything she holds dear.
When I started book five, The Healer’s Legacy, I had two ideas that I knew I couldn’t change. One, that this would be the last book in the series, and two, that Nicholas Culpeper had to feature in it. Nicholas wrote The English Physician, later entitled The Complete Herbal, and made sure it was accessible to even the poorest families. Up until then, most medical texts were in Latin, and poor people couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit. There is little known about him, but I took what scant information I could find and brought him into Gemma’s life. She teaches him about healing and herbal remedies, and he becomes a dear friend to her during a difficult time.
There is more magic and witchcraft in this story, and a wonderful friendship between Gemma, Katherine and Julia-Ann that is destined to last even beyond the grave. And the past and present entwine once more, bringing Jennifer back into the story, five years after we last saw her. She realises there is one more thing for her to do to ensure that her family will be safe for years to come, and won’t rest until it is done.
The Healer’s Legacy wraps up the series, explaining some of the things from the previous books (such as how the Hanging Tree and the soul catcher from The Healer’s Awakening came to be), and I hope that fans of the saga will be happy with how I ended it. And who knows, maybe sometime in the future we’ll go back to the Dragonfly Grove and see how the Innocenti are getting on!”
Thank you, Helen! As well as the books, I love those cover images!
Here’s the blurb for The Healer’s Legacy:
From medieval times to present day, the Healer saga spans generations of the Innocenti family, telling the stories of the women healers whose lives are entwined with legends, curses, and tragedy.
A healer should do no harm. But Gemma Innocenti wants revenge.
Stricken with grief after her mother’s death and forced from her home by the witch hunters, Gemma makes the arduous journey from Tuscany to her uncle’s house in Avignon with her mare, Ombra. Travelling alone and with the threat of danger ever present, she is determined nothing will stop her from getting her vengeance.
When the past catches up with her, she must leave France and travel to England. Retracing the first healer’s steps, she finds witchcraft and friendship where she least expects it.
However, the haunting song of the Dragonfly Grove tugs at her heart, and she knows that one day she will return. And then she discovers that the silver dagger that Morgana hid years before once again threatens her family…
Meanwhile, Jennifer is writing a book about the healers. Gemma’s story intrigues her. What happened to the dagger and why does it hold a deadly power over the healers?
When past and present collide, Jennifer realises she must find the dagger and destroy the centuries-old curse. But time is running out and her family is in danger.
Is this the end of the healers?