The Prison Healer is an addictive YA fantasy novel with a fast-paced, twisty plot and a lot of great characters. It has elemental magic, healing magic and a rebel movement at the centre. Though nothing mind-blowingly unique, the execution of everything that happens in this book is impressive, it’s definitely the first YA fantasy in a while to hold my attention from start to finish. That said, there are a fair few adult themes and moments in the book that felt like they didn’t belong in a book primarily aimed at teenagers due to their sheer brutality. I would recommend only for older teenagers.
Star rating: 5 stars
Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years in the prison built for the worst of criminals, Zalindov. Taken there with her father when she was just a young child, after his death she stepped into his shoes as The Prison Healer. When the Rebel Queen is captured and taken to the prison, Kiva is messaged by her family that she must keep the Rebel Queen alive no matter the cost – and to do that she takes the role as the Rebel Queen’s champion in The Four Trials, a test against the elements that nobody has ever lived through. Amongst the backdrop of a prison rebellion about to spill over, Kiva must navigate relationships with new inmates and maybe make friends for the first time in her prison life.
This book…I can’t even begin to describe it. So much happens it’s quite unbelievable that it fit in 400 pages. Kiva heals new mysterious inmates, she is trying to keep the Rebel Queen alive, she is working out how to survive the elemental trials, she is capturing the attention of royalty, she is trying to work out what is making lots of the inmates sick, she is practically raising a small child called Tipp who helps her in the infirmary. There is a lot going on in Kiva’s life, meaning there is never a dull moment in this book from start to finish.
There is a small cast of side characters that have strong roles to play in this book and I loved them all. Each of them was tantalisingly secretive, and we saw them only through Kiva’s eyes meaning the mystery of their origins was always there. This combined with the thrill of wondering how Kiva would get through The Trials really got me engaged with the plot. Some of the twists were actually wild, I can’t wait to re-read at some point and work out what I missed leading up to them.
Prison life in Zalindov is brutal and unpredictable. It was heart-warming to see Kiva begin to make connections with other people for the first time in ten years, though it was through necessity that this is the case. Tipp, the boy Kiva is protecting, is also really adorable and I loved how much she cared for him, even if it gave me lots of anxiety. I was also really curious about the origins of the Rebel Queen.
Overall, I loved The Prison Healer. I am still spiralling from all the reveals that happened in the last quarter. I have an ARC for The Gilded Cage and you bet I’m going to be picking that right up as soon as I post this review. What a first book – I’m so excited to see where Lynette Noni takes this series. There is so much room to expand the world and the magic and I am so here for it!