THE HEALER'S WAR by Elizabeth A. Scarborough


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Scarborough's first hard-cover: an affecting--though uneven--fantasy about a nurse in Vietnam who receives special powers through a magical amulet. Kitty McCulley is a 21-year-old Kansas girl who arrives in Vietnam to serve as an Army nurse. Right away, it's welcome to the war: she's thrown into wards full of grievously wounded American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians (this is not to mention the rocketing her base periodically undergoes). One of her special patients is Xe, an old Vietnamese ""healer"" who insists on giving her an amulet to wear around her neck; when she puts it on, she can see people's auras--all colors of the rainbow--and thus get information about the state of their physical and spiritual well-being. After Xe dies, a certain Major Krupman arrives on the base--an out-and-out racist--and orders all Vietnamese casualties to another hospital, less well-equipped, where they will most certainly die. Kitty tries to save her favorite patient, a crippled ten-year-old orphan boy named Ahn, by flying him by helicopter to his native village--but the copter crashes, the pilot is killed, and Kitty and Ahn are alone together in Viet Cong jungle. They hook up for a while with William, a half-crazed American grunt, but his aura is far too purple for Kitty's liking (he occasionally tries to kill her and the boy), and finally Kitty and Ahn take refuge in a Vietnamese village. When Kitty is captured by the Viet Cong, it takes a lot of American know-how--plus that useful amulet--to get her through. The fantasy aspects here are not fully developed and become rather routine--once you've seen one aura, it turns out, you've just about seen them all--but Scarborough (once a Vietnam nurse herself) writes powerfully and convincingly of the war itself.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0759287244
Publisher: Doubleday