Reviewed by Liza Perrat
Rating: 3 stars
Elisha Barber is the first of author E.C. Ambrose’s Dark Apostle series. A blend of historical fiction, fantasy and medical thriller, set in fourteenth century England, Elisha Barber is a medieval barber-surgeon who is forced to go and work as a medic on the bloody battlefield of an inequitable war. When a seductive young witch lures him into her world of sorcery, Elisha must untangle certain magical threads, as well as accept the discovery of his new powers.
I found this first tale of the Dark Apostle series well-written. The lead character, Elisha Barber, is a well-developed, dark protagonist; a man full of flaws but whose heart is in the right place. Through the eyes of Elisha, the author explores the occupation of the medieval barber, which involved hair-cutting, beard-trimming, and basic medical treatment. Through her extensive research, the author vividly brings to life the medieval battlefield, the wounds and the rudimentary surgical treatments of the Middle Ages. The horrors, the grime and the stink also spring from every page.
I did have one minor reservation about the beginning of the story. Elisha’s actions do not seem deserving of the heavy guilt he bears. Thus, his reasons for accepting his fate as a battlefield surgeon, to atone for these actions, do not seem entirely feasible. Despite this, I found the story entertaining, and although the support cast remains largely one-dimensional, I am sure lovers of dark historical fantasy will greatly enjoy Elisha Barber.