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Author note: This review was written in exchange for a gifted copy

Greetings humans,
We are super excited to share our review of The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni with you all. We were lucky enough to get an ARC from Kate at Hodder & Stoughton, and we couldn’t say no once we heard the synopsis. The Prison Healer was released TODAY so feel free to read the synopsis, and our spoiler-free review.

The Prison Healer

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 13th April 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 416
Add to: Goodreads
Buy from: Bookshop.org*

Book summary
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.

Our Review

Content warnings: rape, self-harm, torture, animal experimentation, drug abuse, flogging, burning alive. This is not an exhaustive list. If we’ve missed any, please let us know.

The Prison Healer marks the first installment of Lynette Noni’s YA Fantasy trilogy, set in the notorious prison, Zalindov. Filled with dangerous criminals with no hope of freedom or escape, Kiva Meridan has survived far more than most. For ten years, she has been trapped within the prison walls, making herself indispensable as the prison healer.

Outside the prison walls, a rebellion is brewing as the Rebel Queen fights for her right to the throne.

It is not until your typical YA love interest is on her medical table that things begin to change in the life of Kiva Meridan. It throws up an interesting (and enjoyable) dynamic between Kiva, her little side-kick Tipp and this unyielding stranger (Jaren) that is desperate for Kiva’s attention. How long can she avoid his attentions? But this isn’t the true crux of the story.

The drama truly begins when the infamous Rebel Queen arrives at the prison, inches away from death, and with her is a message: Don’t let her die. We are coming.

The Queen has been sentenced to the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth. These tasks are only ever assigned to the most dangerous of criminals and no one has ever survived. With the Queen barely clinging to life, and Kiva desperate to keep her alive, she does the only thing she can do: makes the shocking move to take her place. Hunger Games vibes, anyone?

From here on in, things are a little murky, and make very little sense until you get to the ending. From the mysterious prince to the tasks needing to be watched by the public but largely aren’t, Noni creates a lot of questions. The one that bugged me the most was why were these central characters so important to the story? At times it had felt like you could have replaced them with anyone and it wouldn’t have made too much difference. But the end, you guys! THE END. I could rave about the end for days. If you ever want to find yourself screaming into the void over a cliffhanger, you need to read this book. It answered all my questions and threw 100 more back in my face.

Despite following a lot of the typical tropes you would find in your average YA Fantasy, this was an excellent introduction to this new fantasy world. The final twist will leave you begging for The Gilded Cage.

If you’re hoping for pandemic escapism, then we will warn you that this book contains a mysterious incurable plague that is sweeping through the residents of Zalindov. Noni doesn’t go into too much graphic detail so if you were expecting The Stand levels of pandemic description, then this book is not it (which you might be thankful for).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our review!
We really hope you choose to read The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni.

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