Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

At Zalindov, the only person you can trust is yourself.

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is a survivor. For ten years, she has worked as the healer in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, making herself indispensable. Kept afloat by messages of hope from her family, Kiva has one goal and one goal only: stay alive.

Then one day the infamous Rebel Queen arrives at the prison on death’s door and Kiva receives a new message: Don’t let her die. We are coming.

The queen is sentenced to 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. Aware the sickly queen has little chance of making it through the Trials alive, Kiva volunteers to take her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

And 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.

“Never apologize for loving someone. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.”

My heart is singing! I LOVED THIS BOOK!This is everything you want when you pick up a YA fantasy. The writing was engaging, the pace was quick, the story was eventful and jam packed with action. It was absolutely incredible. And unforgettable. I find it rare for a first in series to capture an equal balance of plot, characters, world building etc., but I feel Lynette Noni achieved that.

I really enjoyed the setting of the story; the hexagonal Zalindov prison. Noni illustrates there’s constant monitoring by guards, overcrowded halls and tensions stirring between inmates, hard labour and lack of privacy in the quarters and bathrooms. The effectiveness of Noni’s imagery made me feel restrictive as though I was one of the prisoners. Equally so it also made me feel lively and adrenaline fuelled when Kiva was facing her elemental trials.

These characters! It felt like the found family trope. There’s Kiva the prison healer, her best friend Tipp, newer prisoner Jaren, kindhearted prison guard Naari and older rogue Mot. Together they make a team of misfits and I loved their interactions and dialogue. One minute I was laughing so hard and the next wanted them to group hug! They were a joy to read and although the story unfolds through Kiva’s narration, it felt like the story was all of theirs too.

But here’s the really interesting bit… I felt like I knew the characters yet knew nothing by the end. Noni has essentially pulled a “You Know Nothing Guiless Bookworm aka Jon Snow” style. There’s clearly so much more to learn with the characters, which to me, shows excellent promise for the story’s progression. Every reasoning and motivation for all of the characters is clear by the end of the book and all of their histories and subplots were woven in extremely well. 

I also want to take a moment to appreciate the thankless nature of Kiva’s prison healer job. In many ways, I think this should give people insight into how medical professionals feel; helpless, exhausted, run off their feet. I don’t know if that message was intended or not, but it is one that comes through loud and clear for this reader, and I applaud it tenfold. 

I am SO excited for the romance!! It’s safe to say the fundamentals of the romance have been beautifully set and I really think we’re in for quite an experience. Noni has me right where she wants me and I beg her not to crush my heart and my precious ship. 

The climax was savage! It was savagely entertaining, heart wrenching, utterly twisty. I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. There’s so many questions and my mind is still running wild about what the sequel will deliver. I don’t just want to know more – I need to know more! It’s already crystal clear these questions will thread the first instalment and sequel really well. In fact, I’d say the potential this series now has is limitless at the end of this book. 

All in all, although I felt some bits were predictable, it hasn’t in the slightest lessened how hyped, excited and pumped I am for this series. I’d go so far as to say Lynette Noni has started a story that really makes this series a contender for the best new series in YA for the next few years. There’s an energy and vibrancy to it that blew me away and I simply want more. The stage is set and I want nothing less than a front row seat to the sequel. I would reread this and will recommend it until I run out of breath. I officially have my new YA obsession!

Buy It Now

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