Book Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Published in Australia on the 30th March, 2021 by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Books Australia. The first book in The Prison Healer series.

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Format: Trade Paperback

Australian RRP: $24.99

ISBN: 9781760897512

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

Page Count: 416

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Penguin Books Australia

Here at Zalindov, the only person you can trust is yourself.

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 Kivaโ€™s family arrives, containing a single order: Donโ€™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.
‘Lynette Noni is a masterful storyteller. A must-read for any fantasy lover!’ SARAH J. MAAS, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author.

My Review:

I received a copy of The Prison Healer from Penguin Books Australia in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

I can completely remember sitting in the crowd at, I think it was Supanova 2019 and silently brimming in all my capacity as a fangirl when Lynette Noni fleetingly spoke about her ‘then-in-the-works’ project, a book primarily set in a prison. At the time, we were celebrating the Weapon launch, which of course is the conclusion to her perfectly amazing Whisper duology, but I remember instantly being intrigued about the then untitled new creation of Lynette Noni! (Who, you may have guessed, is easily one of my favourite Authors of all time!).

Now, having been lucky enough to read an early copy courtesy of the lovely team at Penguin, I almost felt at a loss to put my thoughts into words upon finishing The Prison Healer! You know how sometimes you’ll read a book and the characters will hover in your mind whilst you’re reading it, that you can’t wait to pick it up again when you’ve had to pause reading and then when you do finish, you wonder what on Earth you’re meant to pick up that might even slightly compare to its epic levels?

Now, if we sidestep the fact that I have a tbr that’s close to infinity, I will say that this is exactly how I felt about The Prison Healer! As much as I felt like it slightly resembled and exhudes Throne of Glass, Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, it also actually felt like something completely fresh and of its own vogue! Quite often throughout, I felt like I hadn’t quite read anything like The Prison Healer before and that I’m actually really excited that we’re fortunate enough to be getting the sequel this year too!

I honestly feel like there’s so much to love about The Prison Healer! I cannot even begin to explain how brave the main character, Kiva is! It’s completely admirable and low-key terrifying that she’s been at Zalindov for ten years ongoing, since she was 7! So young, yet having to witness so many horrible things as a child but then also having to continue to bear witness to other people’s pain and have to deal with her own grief too! The latter as well I’m completely pondering on, especially after that crazily insane but altogether exciting revelation / cliffhanger ending reveal!! The more I think about Kiva and a character who shall remain unnamed (for fear of spoilers) scenes, the more I wonder about their interactions, how Kiva kept everything so level headed, yet so completely devoted to helping them, just, when I reached the point of the reveal, I just had to reread the moment about a half dozen times to make sure what I read was true! Whilst I had an inkling about the two characters being connected, it was still completely at a loss for words when I reached the revelation!

That’s not to say though that the above was the only moment which rendered me completely at a flabbergasted loss for words, there were definitely plenty of moments throughout that did this to me! Sufficed it to say, The Prison Healer is definitely a book that will be keeping you on your toes!

The setting itself, of Zalindov, was completely eerie and unnerving throughout, adding a whole lot of heightened tension throughout! Zalindov reads so vividly, I could honestly feel the brutality of it! With a plague like sickness circulating the prison inmates, death is felt throughout and it was definitely concerning (especially for Kiva, as the Prison Healer, quite literally), that she couldn’t quite pinpoint what was causing the rapidly life-claiming illness!

It’s through Kiva’s eyes that we navigate through The Prison Healer, not knowing who to trust throughout (though I will say Tipp is such a precious, wholesome bean and needs to be protected at all costs!), honestly though, the young boy and Kiva’s friendship will completely tug at your heartstrings, it’s so heartwarming! Then there’s the mystery of The Rebel Queen, when she’s captured and brought to Zalindov in a very, very fragile and near death state (that’s not a spoiler as it’s alluded to in the Sypnosis!).

Kiva treats the Rebel Queen like every single other patient that she’s endeavoured to heal throughout her time as Healer, but when she gets a secret code from her family (also, the codes throughout The Prison Healer that Kiva secretly uses with her family to communiate, were absolutely wicked too! I loved reading the symbols and Kiva quickly translating what they meant!!) and when it seems like the Rebel Queen isn’t going to recover quickly enough to undertake her Trial by Ordeals (a series of elemental trials that will pitch the subject against fire, earth, water and air, the Rebel Queen’s quickly deteriorating health and Kiva receiving a code from her family urging her to keep Tilda alive, Kiva acts quickly and offers herself to take Tilda’s place in the challenges! Each one, completely more unnerving then the previous! The second one especially was utterly terrifying, though, it felt like I was reading one of my worst nightmares!!

Kiva’s strength, again, is completely admirable! She’s definitely one of the strongest females I’ve had the joy to discover, definitely reading as older than her seventeen years! She knows she has to not only fight for herself, but also Tilda, Tipp, Naari (an equally fierce character, I came to really enjoy her friendship with Kiva!) and the very mysterious Varen, who I was constantly trying to figure out his agenda and true instincts (but all I can say after reading the penultimate reveal at the end, is woah!!!). They’re honestly all absolutely amazing characters, coupled with a completely nail biting plot with engaging twists throughout, The Prison Healer is easily one of my favourite books of the year and I easily recommend it! A huge and heartfelt thanks to the team at Penguin Books Australia/Penguin Teen Australia for gifting me a copy of The Prison Healer in exchange for an honest review!

Happy Reading,


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