(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Healers War marks a turning point in Elizabeth Ann Scarborough’s career. Her previous seven novels are humorous fantasy. In The Healers War, Scarborough draws on her own experiences as an Army nurse in Vietnam to create a remarkably compelling story. Books that follow this one, such as Nothing Sacred (1991) and its sequel, Last Refuge (1992), also have a message in addition to offering entertainment. All of them are quite entertaining, filled with flashes of wit and humor, along with compassionate, interesting characters.

Kitty McCulley is a wonderful hero, compassionate and observant, yet not too quick to figure things out, as befits a sheltered girl from Kansas. It is refreshing to see a womans perspective on this war, and Kitty’s confusion and pain go a long way toward explaining the feelings of all veterans and refugees. These people have learned in the most brutal manner possible that the best efforts toward creating peace can lead to disaster, and no matter what the political picture, nothing can soften the personal tragedies of homelessness, injury, and death.

Scarborough does a better job of writing about the war in this book than she does of creating the fantasy. The amulet is nicely mysterious at first, but it ceases to be significant. An aura is an aura is an aura, apparently. It is heartwarming to see Kitty healing people, and her ability to read others intentions is useful to the story,...

(The entire section is 421 words.)