see previous review), Judith is reeling from the death of Elma - the perfumier who welcomed both her and her Shadow, Sarah without question.
Now with their friend, confidant and teacher gone, they are left wondering when the police will come knocking. The ignoble doctor has his suspicions about Judith using her knowledge of herbs etc to aide Elma's passing but as she rightly points out, her mother died when she was young so how can she know which remedy to heal the cancerous pain rippling through her mentor's body?
Left alone, they take over the business and begin in earnest to build up the clientele and expand their range - creams, soaps - but they must travel to build up supplies. Besides increasing business, both Judith and Sarah have to take heed to the increasing animosity towards women who are healers. Echoes of Elma's suggestion that Judith can and should become a healer worry them. On their travels to find new scents and healing herbs they meet Joseph who was once a Shadow. Is it possible for a Shadow to become human? After tragedy strikes, Judith meets Bruno - a Forest man, handsome, large, strong and who is aware of what it is to be a healer after all his Grandmother is one. Despite pushing him away, Bruno captivated by her, promises to meet her back in Pharsis.
Events take a turn for the worse as students from the University turn on Shadows - beating them up without mercy. Created by a Doctor Julius, Judith assists him and a brave few to tend to the wounded in a makeshift hospital; Dr. Julius using science and Judith more traditional herbal remedies. Fraught with frustration and fear, Judith continues the dangerous practice whilst Bruno helps out on the stalls. Will she and Bruno succeed as a couple? Is the protection of Shadows more important than her own life?
The Healer Trilogy continues with another heartfelt story. Laced with courage and compunction, Judith is as strong as ever, Sarah still logical and clear thinking. New characters are introduced and those met briefly in the first book are given a more prominent role. Questions raised in the previous book are answered and Brooks' style is easy and her descriptions vivid as ever. This is a love story that is almost buried by student angst, death and survival. The end is no cliff hanger but just a gentle ending to a busy story.
A great second installment. Brooks' characters have matured and there is a constant desire/wish for Judith and Sarah to succeed. They don't have an easy life but as I continued reading, I understood that a lot of it was Judith not believing in herself and that her past life/childhood has had a greater impact than first realized. As much as he's not described as a nice man, I had a lot of respect for The Rottweiler and the introduction of Bruno and his ability to stand up to and for Judith was pleasing. Last time I didn't identify with Judith and Sarah, this time I'm more in tune with them and am looking forward to the final journey. A highly recommended read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author to review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.