Review: A Healing Hope

I received a last-minute ARC for A Healing Hope by Selina De Luca and read it over the weekend. This is the second book I have read from the Hope Ever After series, a charity author collaboration to support O.U.R. (Operation Underground Rescue), which rescues children from exploitation and trafficking. The story supports this mission in its themes and worldbuilding. Though it is a retelling of "Rapunzel," it takes only the most basic elements of the fairy tale to weave a unique and original mythology similar to A Cascading Hope, the other book I've read from this series. Both of these stories take place in high fantasy worlds with complex magic systems and lore, which, though sometimes overwhelming, had a lot of love and planning put into them. This book does a particularly good job of providing hope to lost children who dream of returning home with its theming and plot.


Raíza is a lost princess trapped in a dragon-guarded tower with a solid escape plan in mind. However, when she reconfigures a discarded dragon wing into a harness to fly safely to the ground, she realizes that someone else is planning to come to her rescue, and he needs help. Thadeus is a little embarrassed to have traversed a deadly labyrinth to rescue a princess who has already rescued herself, but pride does not prevent him from allowing her to use her depleting source of magic hair to heal him so they can return home together. The biggest obstacle that stands in Raíza's way of opening her heart up to Thadeus completely is her desire to protect the child that the dragon induced upon her body with a magic potion, a rarely used throwback to the original fairy tale in which Rapunzel gave birth while locked in the tower.

The book does an excellent job of creating an "otherworldly" feel through the use of poetic language and gem lore, which reminded me a little of Steven Universe. The people in this world are born with powers that are determined based on the color of their eyes, which is associated with a type of gem. For instance, someone born with green eyes has Emerald powers, which allows them to heal. Gold is considered the rarest and most powerful force in this world, which is why Raíza is so protective of her golden-eyed child whose powers are coveted by their captor. Thadeus is a Silver, which gives him the power of sight to navigate the labyrinth and help Raíza escape. Through their combined efforts, they help each other break down the walls of pride and defensiveness that make each of them so guarded.

One aspect of the book that I did not enjoy as much was the confusion behind Raíza's memories that were caused by psychological trauma. There were parts of the story that didn't make much sense until the truth was revealed later that I found confusing and difficult to follow at times. Although everything was explained at the end, Raíza's altered memory seemed extraneous to the story, and the cause of it was not elaborated upon during earlier parts of the book that would have allowed readers to sympathize more with her and better understand her motivations. That said, the trauma of living in a world where children are coveted and captured for their magic is a beautiful and poignant reflection of the charity that this series supports.

A Healing Hope by Selina De Luca is a whimsical retelling of "Rapunzel" that weaves a unique and original mythology in a high fantasy world. With its poetic language, gem lore, and complex magic system, this book transports readers to an otherworldly realm. Raíza and Thadeus's journey is a beautiful exploration of hope, resilience, and the power of combined efforts. While some aspects of the book may be confusing at times, the story ultimately shines a light on the important mission of O.U.R. and the resilience of children who have been exploited and trafficked. A Healing Hope is a must-read for fans of fantasy and fairy tale retellings, and a wonderful contribution to the Hope Ever After series.

Comments

I don't read this genre, at least for now, but I am interested in branching out and adding something like this. This book sounds like a decent read overall so I appreciate the review!

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