Thursday 12 September 2019

The Healer's Daughters by Jay Amberg + #Giveaway

The Healer's Daughters by Jay Amberg
Published in America by Amika Press in on the 17th July 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and my 2010s read for the 2019-20 Decade Challenge

A terrorist bombing in Bergama, Turkey kills twenty-three people including three children. Modern Bergama is built on the site of ancient Pergamon, a city whose art and wealth and culture rivaled Athens. It was also the home of the Aesklepion, the world’s greatest healing center, and the birthplace of Galen, the Roman Empire’s most famous doctor.

Tuğçe Iskan, a Turkish Ministry investigator, finds evidence that links the terrorism to a powerful criminal family and to Galen’s life and Pergamon’s lost treasures. But Iskan is alone, an outcast in the Ministry because she is honest, diligent, and a woman.

As Iskan delves more deeply into the heinous attack, she needs allies outside the Ministry. She must turn to Özlem Boroğlu, a local archeologist, and Boroğlu’s daughter Elif, an artist with an affinity for ancient Aegean goddesses. Can these three women defeat ISIL terrorists, criminal oligarchs, and corrupt officials? Can they even survive?

The Healer's Daughters is a compelling thriller which takes place around an ancient archaeological site, Bergama in Turkey. I was initially concerned that the story might veer too far towards the Indiana Jones adventure trope, but Amberg avoids such obvious pitfalls and, instead, delivers a complex and scarily plausible tale. The novel begins with a glimpse back to life in ancient Pergamon which helped me to understand the importance of what in the present day is hidden under the hills surrounding Bergama. There are only a few of these flashbacks so this isn't a dual timeline novel. Most of the story takes place in the present day where ISIL terrorist attacks are used as a cover for the looting of ancient graves with any discovered artefacts being sold on the black market to wealthy overseas collectors.

Amberg obviously has a great love for Turkey and Turkish culture. I appreciated the authenticity of minor details throughout the story such as the social rituals of serving tea and the importance of a shared cigarette break! The novel has a large cast so it took a while for all the characters to develop distinctive voices, but I generally felt as though each one was acting in a genuine way. I could always understand their motivations. Insights into the Boroglu family allowed me to see how the mother and daughter were in many ways very similar even though they had chosen different life paths. I liked the strong family resemblance in behaviour. I did feel as though The Healer's Daughters was as much a battle of the sexes novel as anything else. Certainly the greedy characters bent on pillaging the historic sites for personal gain seemed to be all male, whereas the characters for whom I found myself rooting were predominantly female.

This novel is an exciting thriller and I was pleased that Amberg didn't attempt to stretch credulity beyond what is believable within the context of this story. I thought The Healer's Daughters was a more gripping tale for its believability and I liked Amberg took the trouble to show the longterm pain and anguish of people directly affected by terrorist attacks. The Healer's Daughters has an emotional depth that appealed to me as a reader because I could empathise strongly with characters such as Elif, Ozlem and Tugce. I enjoyed this novel and would happily pick up more of Jay Amberg's work.

Meet the author:

Jay Amberg is the author of twelve books. He received a BA from Georgetown University and a PhD from Northwestern University. He has taught high school and college students since 1972. His latest book, The Healer’s Daughters, is now available from Amika Press. Amberg has also published Bone Box, Cycle, America’s Fool, Whale Song, and compiled 52 Poems for Men. Prior to Amika Press, Amberg published thriller novels Doubloon (Forge), Blackbird Singing (Forge) and Deep Gold (Warner Books). Among his books on teaching are School Smarts and The Study Skills Handbook, published by Good Year. Amberg wrote The Creative Writing Handbook (Good Year) with Mark Henry Larson and Verbal Review and Workbook for the SAT (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) with Bob Boone.

Connect with the author:
Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win one of five print copies (USA & Canada); or one of 15 ebooks (international) of The Healer's Daughters. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (anywhere Amazon will ship.) (21 winners)
Open internationally until the 27th September 2019

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  1. Thank you for the thoughtful review!

  2. This is an interesting, nuanced book. Yes, emotional depth! I hear what you're saying about the battle of the sexes, all I can remember is Clare the American lawyer and her stolen antiquities. But it was nice to see three women main characters dealing with their own interpersonal struggles, plus the friggin patriarchy.

    1. I was pleased with how well this was understood and portrayed, especially as it doesn't detract from the tension of the story

  3. Stephanie, thank you for your review. The long-term pain felt by terrorist acts does reverberate through people's lives. I appreciate you mentioning that aspect of the novel. Did you have a favorite character among the three main women?

    1. I think Ozlem might just have been my favourite character, but I could empathise with Elif too

    2. I’m glad that you picked up on how important Özlem’s cigarette breaks are to her.

  4. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this wonderful thriller with your followers. I am certain they will enjoy it as well!