Title: The prison healer
Author: Lynette Noni
Genre(s): Fantasy, ya
My rating: 5/5 stars
Other books by this author: The gilded cage (Part 2), The blood traitor (Part 3), The Medoran Chronicles, The Whisper Duology
Find Lynette Noni here:
The seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan survives, for already ten years, in Zalindov, the most notorious prison from Wenderall. She works there as a healer for the prisoners who get ill inside Zalindov. When the rebel queen is captured and brought inside Zalindov, Kiva becomes the person to keep her alive so that she can undergo Trial by Ordeal. Those are four tests based on the four elements (Water, earth, air & fire). Only the most dangerous prisoners get these tests. Kiva receives a coded letter from her family, states that she needs to keep the rebel queen alive. And also that they are coming to get her. However, the queen is not in a state to undergo the four tests. Kiva decides to do the four tests by herself, and if she wins, not only the rebel queen but also, Kiva will get her freedom back. Only, there has never been anyone who has survived all the four different tests.
Kiva is the main character in the story, and you also follow everything out of her perspective. Kiva is a person who has already survived for ten years in these horrific circumstances. She manages to stay alive by healing people in Zalindov. She is the only healer they have and so necessary in Zalindov. Throughout the entire book, you get to know more and more about Kiva, her motives, Kiva's past, and what happened with her family. In her perspective, you also see the people around her who bring little light to the heavy days in Zalindov. You have the eleven-year-old Tipp, a boy who didn't want to leave his mom and now grows up as an orphan in Zalindov. Tipp stutters, and this also gets shown in the book a lot.
Next to Kiva and Tipp, there are many other characters in the book, some go by a made-up nickname, and others don't have names. Two persons who get more important as the story goes on are Jarren and Naari. Jarren gets brought in one day, wounded, and even though he's healed now, he stays - at the risk of his own life - close to Kiva. Slowly, he develops a little into the love interest of Kiva. Next to that, he also has to perform dangerous work in the subway, something that not many people survive for a long time. With Jarren, there also comes a new guard to the infirmary, Naari. Kiva doubts Naari - also because the guards are not known for their friendliness - but gradually finds out that not everyone is who they seem to be. And that every role, in every story, can get played with a lot of conviction.
This book has a somewhat slower building, in which you learn to know the world (read: prison) where Kiva has already lived for ten years. You also get to see what the circumstances are. And even a little about how the world outside of Zalindov looks. You get to know the characters, and then all at once, the book comes at a fast speed. The trials are coming, Kiva has to prepare, outside of the fact that she's also looking to the cause of a deadly virus that spreads in Zalindov and how she tries to keep the rebel queen alive. This fast speed sometimes gets brought down with a small summarizing chapter in between (when the author skipped a few days in which not a lot happened). As a reader, that's a moment in which you come to rest a little. After which, everything continues like a roller coaster.
The writing style is super descriptive and takes you into the story right away. And even though you're in the head of Kiva, you still don't know everything as a reader. There still happen a lot of things that you don't know about or what you find out after it already had happened, partly because Kiva doesn't know it either, but also partly because Kiva doesn't share every single thought with the reader. When the trials begin, multiple plot twists follow one another. The most prominent ones at the total end of the story (I don't place 'big' spoilers in reviews, don't be scared), although I somehow felt that some things were going to happen in the ending, I still got super surprised. The last part showed the reader that nothing in this story is as it looks like the first time you see it.
The prison healer is a super well-written fantasy novel, in which you can see - as a reader - that the world has got thought out so well. The things that happen connect, and all the characters follow their own story. They aren't only there to support Kiva's story. The book is full of plot twists, and especially at the ending, you want to read further right away. There's a little bit of romance in the stories, but the focus is more on the different trials, the rebels, and the virus that spreads through Zalindov. The most prominent characters get a good bond with each other, and the chemistry between them is feelable while reading. Above all, this is a super great easy-to-read fantasy for young adults.
Let's finish with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Never apologize for loving someone. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.”
- Lynette Noni, The prison healer