(4 / 5)
What would you do if a beautiful, enthralling, enigmatic woman told you that you possessed great, untapped healing powers? If you’re The Reluctant Healer’s pragmatic lawyer Will Alexander, you vigorously dispute such ridiculousness. You deny. You ignore. You question her sanity. But what if she’s right?
Will doesn’t know what to make of new love interest, Erica Wells. She modestly claims to be a healer of people’s physical, emotional, and psychological ailments, all the while asserting that Will has a natural power to heal that far supersedes her own. As she draws him further into her esoteric world of energy work, asking him to become more and more involved in her healing sessions, Will finds himself inadvertently healing a wealthy, prominent member of New York society. Reluctantly going along with the man’s urgings, Will subsequently agrees to try and help others. While he is still unsure if he is actually healing or helping anyone, it is the bereaved father of a child Will cannot heal who threatens to undo everything Will is building and the person he is becoming.
Author Andrew Himmel has written an engrossing and flawed debut novel. The plot is hands-down five stars — deftly and richly written in parts, compelling and clever for the twists it takes toward the end. What is needed is a consistent emotional connection to and motivations for the characters. For example, Erica comes across driven and independent and capable of connecting to and healing others. Who is she beyond that? Is she in love with Will or does she simply love his talent? Will’s laid-back yin to Erica’s energetic yang provides tension and interest in the story. However, Will is in his head too much; his emotions are detached and muted, his motivations dispassionate and unclear. If he’s not sure that he cares about this journey he’s on, why should the reader? On the whole, The Reluctant Healer is worth your time, especially if you have any interest in books about the healing arts. (Despite Will’s skeptical attitude toward the subject, the undercurrent of the book is one of belief and respect.) Andrew Himmel has the makings of a great novelist, and The Reluctant Healer should be just the beginning.