ARC Review: THE PRISON HEALER by Lynette Noni

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in beige on black below a flower growing from a keyhole
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star rating: 3 stars
Series: Yes - first book in trilogy


Book cover for THE PRISON HEALER: title in yellow anove a flower growing for a keyhole on bars

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE PRISON HEALER is one of those books that was easy to read, but lacked a certain something and had a few elements that frustrated me. The pacing was good and the prison itself was interestingly set up. The two crises Kiva face (the plague and taking the Rebel Queen’s place in the trials) meant that there was always something happening.

I did guess the plague mystery pretty much as soon as it was brought up, so was just waiting for her to find it out, but it was similar to something I’ve been working on, so I guess I was primed for it. The trials did feel a bit too easy for her to get involved in, and felt a little too easy to survive given they were designed to kill her and others kept intervening.

There is one trope in this book that I am not a big fan of if it’s used a certain way, but is used twice in this book. I was actually not too bothered by the first usage of the trope, as it set up an interesting scenario for the next book and the potential for real character growth.

However, the second one, revealed on the final page, is the usage that really frustrates me. I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen (it’s a pretty cliche YA trope at this point) and to dump it on the final page just reads as a lazy cliff-hanger to get the reader to pick up the next book. It wasn’t set up in the book, just dropped in there.

I just… why the MC of every book need to be someone very special? It was reading like Kiva was just an ordinary girl who had ended up in prison because of a suspicious, incorrect report about her father – and that injustice had driven her remaining family into the rebellion. I would have loved to see an ordinary girl find herself tangled up in rebellion, particularly as it would set up some interesting conflict for the second book.

I will probably read the second one at some point, because I’m curious to see where the rebellion will go, but the future conflict between Kiva and Jaren is probably going to annoy me.

Read my reviews of other books by Lynette Noni:

The Prison Healer (this series):

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