One thing writing has taught me is that you must read a lot and continuously be willing to learn. That is the reason I bought this book. It has become one of my top resources when it comes to writing about one of my characters, who is – simply put – a herbalist. I trust this book as a resource because Beverley Gray is knowledgeable in this field and her book has received 6 or so awards.
I, in no way have gone to school to learn about medicinal healing, or how to even prepare plants for making medicine, and so it resulted in me purchasing this lovely text.
The best thing about this book is how simple it is to understand. Someone like me – with no knowledge what-so-ever – is able to follow and understand the basics.
So, what does this book have to offer? A lot, that’s what!
This book is broken up into 5 parts:
- Getting Started: This covers how to use the book, what you should consider before harvesting plants, the basics of healing plants, sacred-spirit plant healing (which I had no idea was a thing before picking up this book), how to preserve the plants you pick, and lastly the apothecary kitchen.
- Plant Profiles: This is where you have an alphabetical list of plants that show you what they look like, their etymology, botanical description, habitat information, parts you can use, harvest time, medicinal actions, medicinal preparations, medicinal uses, food uses, cautions about using the plants, and so much more. The book covers herbs, berries, and trees commonly found in the Boreal Forests, which is perfect as my story is based in a forest with similar traits to this forest.
- Plant Prep and Recipes Section 1: This is awesome and probably my most used section of the book, as it helps me get an idea of what plants to use to create different kinds of treatments. It lists off herbal teas, tinctures, vinegars, elixirs, bitters, syrups, capsules, plant essences, topical treatments, essential oils, hydrosols, baths and steams. I don’t use any of these on myself at the moment, but it helps with breaking down the basic steps, allowing me to get an idea of the processes that my character may need to take when tending to someone who is injured. Section 2: focuses on the foods and drinks you can make with these plants. As my book takes place in a medieval like world, common plants from the local forests were common in peoples’ diets. This allowed me to create cultural foods for certain locations authentic with the time my world was based on.
- Economics: a part of the book I didn’t have much interest in. It is a section that teaches you how to grow your own forest-product business.
- For Reference: even a knowledgeable writer on the subject needs to have resources. This list of resources Gray used helped me find other sources to help my knowledge grow on the subject.
Gray’s book was not only helpful in building my knowledge on plants in my local forests, but it helped me develop a world more realistic for my readers. It was easy to read and understand. The book broke down the difficult steps of finding, storing and using these plants into terms I could comprehend. The pictures were perfect to help me describe the plants in my stories, and where they are commonly found.
In the end, if you are looking for a resource to help you with developing a herbalist character that is straightforward and easy to use, this is a great book to use. It doesn’t only make a useful resource for your writing but one that makes you consider the world around you.
I’ll leave the link to her website where you can find her book, along with some of her other links, if you are interested.
*I want to state in no way am I telling you to use plants for your own personal health. I am sharing this book as a resource for writing, not to promote alternative medical choices.
Images from: Indigo.ca