My Rating: 9/10
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.
What a fun and thrilling ride! When I first started The Prison Healer, I figured it would be an enjoyable– but altogether forgettable– novel like a lot of the books I’ve read marketed towards Young Adults. This isn’t a knock on the YA genre, it’s just that sometimes people seem to not put effort into making YA books unique because a general formula sells well for that genre. Don’t get me wrong, The Prison Healer has those aspects that makes YA fantasy books so popular: a budding romance, magic, and beautiful characters. It has a whole lot of heart too, though. The characters jump off the page and demand your attention. The prison setting is unique and anxiety inducing, really playing into the feel that the author was going for.
I will note that The Prison Healer is a lot darker than much of the YA that I’ve read. The romance so far is very PG and palatable for young audiences, but the violence is more on the level of NA or Adult. There’s also many triggers; we are in a jail setting where the population is at the whims of oppressive, domineering guards. This is also a setting where the outside world is virtually unreachable and the authorities within the prison can do whatever they’d like without repercussions. Rape happens, though it isn’t graphic or on page. One of the characters talks about a past of self-mutilation as punishment. These are things that might be too much for the younger age group that reads YA; not a read that I would recommend for readers transitioning from middle grade to YA reads, definitely keep this towards the more mature age range of the genre.
On the other hand, I could see people that aren’t fans of the YA genre enjoying this greatly. The action, the rise up against an oppressive government, the jail setting. All of this makes for a wonderful read. Kiva, our main character, keeps a lot hidden and slowly reveals how she ended up in the jail and what happened to her family along the way. She finds a family of sort within the jail after being separated from her true family for ten years.
I will say that there are two major twists in the novel that I could KIND of guess. I didn’t get every detail completely correct, but I had an idea of where it was going. That being said, having guessed where these plot lines were going didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all. The author also pulled them off in such a way that I was still surprised at the full scope. The last few paragraphs made me immediately research when book two was coming out and I am SUPER thankful it isn’t going to be a long wait. That cover bears mentioning too! So unique compared to the typical covers you see of an attractive woman gracing the cover of every YA fantasy book these days. If you’re looking for a fun, dark, atmospheric read then check out The Prison Healer.