In The Healer by Michael Blumlein there are two types of people; humans and tesques (short for grotesques). Tesques are distinguished by some deformed feature and an extra organ, a small opening on their side, the meli. Some tesques are able to heal humans, turning their illness of affliction into a concretion and expelling it from their own body through the meli. As children, all tesques are tested. If they have healing powers, they are taken away from their family and trained to serve humans as healers. Payne is a healer and the novel follows his various assignments.
His first assignment is at the Pannus mine. He begins with a naïve attitude that he can befriend the humans and make a real difference. The only other tesque in the isolated mine is Vecque, an older more pessimistic healer. As they work together, Payne gets first hand experience with the drain, the inevitable fate for all healers when their abilities and lives are used up. Healers are forbidden to heal each other, but Payne tries to heal Vecque anyway. Although he was unable to heal her, the fact that they both survive makes him unique.
I had such hope for this novel to be deeper than it was. I felt Payne’s character changed very little throughout the novel despite everything that happened to him. Perhaps the only significant change is after healing Vecque when he loses a bit of his naivety. At his next assignment he finds faith, then loses it due to human prejudice. He joins an underground revolutionary group, then drops out and yet he still seems the same character, unchanged by his life. I also felt the ending was not in line with the rest of the story. Supposedly healers are kept more as property or slaves than as workers. Because of his unique abilities, Payne is watched by and reassigned at the whim of humans, yet at the end of the novel he was able to walk off into the desert alone. From there the narrative takes on the tone of a legend, mush different than the rest of the book.
The Healer has a very easy flowing and haunting narrative, but little character development. The novel seemed to be leading up to something that never quite happened. Despite its drawbacks, The Healer was still an enjoyable, if not somewhat frustrating read.
The Healer by Michael Blumlein, MD
Published by Pyr
The Healer is available at Amazon.com
Pyr Publishing provided me with a free review copy of The Healer