Hello, everyone! I’m excited to bring you my mini review of The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. I waited several months for this book to finally become available at my library and was very happy to finally get to read it.
Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.
When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.
Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
But no one has ever survived.
With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.
From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.
“But things happen in life that you don’t expect, that you can’t plan for and you’re helpless to stop. Their story didn’t end as it should have. But I know for a fact that they’d live it all over again, even the ending, as long as it meant they could keep their beginning.”
But, Papa, the endings are the best part.
Sometimes, sweetheart. But other times, the beginnings are.The Prison Healer, pg. 196
This was a pretty run of the mill YA fantasy. It had a lot of common tropes and a bit of slow burn romance thrown in for good measure. It was quite dark, though, and should probably have almost every trigger warning possible. The characters go through some awful stuff, which wasn’t surprising given the book is set in a prison where people are sent to die, but there were a few times that it really felt more gratuitous than necessary for the story. I enjoyed the writing style of the author and liked getting to see the thoughts of the main character. However, the pacing of the book wasn’t the best, especially in the middle where it was dreadfully slow at times. The characters had a lot of great moments, though, and I grew really attached to all of them over the course of the story. Kiva’s story here was an interesting narrative about the power of hope and the importance of leaning on others when necessary. I liked how strong she was, but I was a little disappointed that her strengths were never really enough to save her. In every trial, she had to be rescued by someone else, which got a bit repetitive and annoying (even if it made sense given what she was going through). I also loved Tipp and believe he must be protected at all costs. He was like a ray of sunshine in all the dark things that happened in this book. The setting was very interesting. I was worried at first that the entire book happening in the prison would be too insular, but I actually quite liked how focused it made the story. The world-building of the prison’s environment and system was interesting and felt truly terrifying at times; however, information about the wider world was seriously lacking and/or completely nonsensical (e.g., why would rival countries share a prison that has no oversight – other than to force the plot of the book, of course). This wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if the politics from outside the prison hadn’t been such an important part of the plot. The story had several big ‘twists,’ all of which I saw coming from a mile away. I still liked them, though, but the biggest one of all made me second guess the entire story because it made it seem like the narrator had been lying the entire time about everything. So, the story was far from perfect with pacing and plot problems, but I enjoyed the writing, characters, and world-building within the prison. I’m hoping the information about the world at large will make more sense once some of the characters are out in it, and with the way this book ended, I’m definitely interested to see where the story goes in the sequel. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars and will pick up the sequel once it is available at the library.