Many thanks to Robbie Cheadle for this comprehensive, thoughtful and illuminating review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Golden Healer is the second book in The Curse of Time series and continues this unique fantasy story with its unusual and intriguing storyline. Book one ended with a happy environment after Amelina’s father was finally restored to his family at the correct age and Esme disappeared from the mirror, presumably to a better place. Book two starts with small but obvious indications that all is not as it seems and the issues involving both Amelina’s father and Esme are not adequately resolved.
The beginning is a bit slower moving as the author skillfully unwinds the reader’s beliefs that all is well and hammers cracks into the happy environment. The stage is set beautifully with fascinating and intricate scenes and dreams spun like a spiderweb from the author’s pen. Amelina’s first dream travel in this book has catastrophic results as while she is away from her body her bloodstone is stolen and this accelerates the cracks in her home environment.
This book is not an easy read and you have to concentrate as you read in the same way you would while reading a classic novel. It is worth the effort as the descriptions and concepts are outstanding and beautifully depicted.
There are a few stand out scenes for me in this book, as follows: the grasshopper in the meadow, the clowns in the café, and Aunt Karissa’s chocolates. For me, these were unbelievably imaginative and full of mystery.
Aunt Karissa features plays a small role in this book, introducing some welcome lightness and humour as Ryder’s darkness and power continue to grow. The reader learns a bit more about Ryder and his origins and homeland.
Another memorable feature of this book is that each chapter or puzzle piece starts with a tanka poem that hints at what is to follow in the chapter. The author is also an excellent poet and the poems were a lovely addition.
A few memorable quotes from this book:
“The grasshopper monster propelled time forward in a steady, slow, rocking motion, as if he was devouring our lives in seconds, minutes and hours as we gazed upon him.”
“Hello my beautiful reflection. You came! You always come when I need you the most. I have been so anxious listening to the troubles of this family which has become my family. What have you been doing? I see sweet flowers covering the red cuts on your left wrist.”
“”She opened the wrapper with trembling fingers. Inside, there was a small, round milk chocolate. It grew in her palm. the chocolate split into two halves, one half dark, and the other half white. In the centre, a dividing line moved form side to side as if whipping up the chocolate angrily.”
In conclusion, I would like to add that when I was a girl of 10 years old, I discovered the books written by Eva Ibottson. Every book of hers I read was a complete delight to me with its amazing fantasy creatures and gorgeous depictions of the lives of hags in dribbles and wizards in towers surrounded by mist. Throughout my adult life, I have search for an adult author who can invoke the same magical worlds and belief in magical creatures that I discovered in Miss Ibottson’s stories, and in this series by M.J. Mallon, I do believe I finally found an adult equivalent.
Do pop over to Robbie’s wonderful blog to read the post in its entirety: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2022/07/16/robbies-inspiration-book-review-golden-healer-by-m-j-mallon/