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The Prison Healer #1

The Prison Healer

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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.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.

421 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 13, 2021

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About the author

Lynette Noni

19 books4,116 followers
After studying journalism, academic writing and human behaviour at university, Lynette Noni finally ventured into the world of fiction. She is now a full-time writer and the #1 bestselling author of the six-book young adult fantasy series, The Medoran Chronicles, the award-winning YA duology, Whisper, and the globally renowned YA fantasy trilogy, The Prison Healer.

In 2019, Lynette’s book Whisper won the ABIA Award (Australian Book Industry Award) for Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year, as well as the Gold Inky Award (Australia’s only teen choice book award).

Her newest series, The Prison Healer, won the 2022 ABIA Award for Book of the Year for Older Children (13+), and was shortlisted for the 2022 Indie Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2022 Audie Awards, and a CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) notable mention for Older Readers Book of the Year. The Prison Healer was also voted in at #2 on the Better Reading Kid’s Top 50 list for 2022 — directly behind Harry Potter.

Collectively, Lynette’s books have been published in 18 different countries and counting.

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5 stars
14,519 (47%)
4 stars
11,257 (36%)
3 stars
3,721 (12%)
2 stars
860 (2%)
1 star
237 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,767 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,478 reviews29.7k followers
May 16, 2021
this book is definitely worth all the hype its getting.

and it reminded me that the setting doesnt need to be intricate. an entire story can take place in a single location (eg. a prison) and still be entertaining if the characters (tipp deserves to be protected at all costs), plot (political scheming), and writing (perfect pacing) are great. which they are in this.

my only complaint would be the ‘twists.’ even though they arent necessarily predictable, they didnt surprise or shock me, either. if anything, the reveals feel… really dang convenient. i dont know how else to explain it. they just feel underwhelming.

but overall, this really is an enthralling and enticing start to a series. so excited that the sequel comes out later this year!

4.5 stars
April 27, 2021

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I nabbed this book on impulse because it was giving me POISON STUDY vibes, and for those of you who don't know, that is one of my golden standards when it comes to YA fantasy. If I had known that this was blurbed by Sarah J. Maas, I probably wouldn't have gotten it, though, because I'm not too keen on her books and, like many authors, she tends to read and blurb books that are written in a style similar to hers.

THE PRISON HEALER kind of reads as a cross between AIR AWAKENS, THRONE OF GLASS, and INCARCERON. I wasn't really a fan of any of those three books which maybe explains why this book quickly paled for me in terms of enjoyment. Kiva is a healer in a prison, where she basically has two jobs: carve the Z into prisoners' wrists and then cure them of any ailments. Since she has a sweet gig, people don't think all that kindly of her. Especially since she's often one of the first people they see once she gets down to business with the tagging. So yeah, not many people are #TeamKiva.

When Kiva ends up becoming the Champion for a Rebel Queen, she ends up having to go through all of these ordeals that will mean her life if she fails. She also ends up embroiled in a political intrigue that seems to be taking place entirely within the jail. Which... okay. I actually ended up getting pretty confused at this point because it suffered a problem that a lot of these claustrophobically set fantasy novels have, where it kind of ignores everything that's happening outside the scope of the main setting, making the reader wonder why this is such a big deal. I mean... it's a jail.

The plot twist at the end was seriously THRONES OF GLASS-y, and so were the blue-and-gold colored eyes and the PoC friend, Naari, who kind of ends up serving as a deus-ex-machina (hi, Nehemia). Oh, and there's a playboy prince who likes her for no reason. I did like how several of the pages were just black when the heroine gets thrown into a dungeon-like thing called the Abyss, and the healing angle was cool, but it quickly lapsed into pretty generic YA fantasy and Kiva ended up becoming a Mary Sue. People who are more partial to the three books I mentioned two paragraphs ago will probably enjoy this more than I did-- especially since it is somewhat darker than your typical YA fantasy fare (and unlike some reviewers, I took no issue with this). It just wasn't to my taste.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 stars
Profile Image for myo (myonna reads).
645 reviews6,093 followers
June 30, 2021
BRO THE ENDING TO THIS BOOK WENT CRAZY!! the author did SO amazing with the pacing and getting you attached to the characters. when i first went into this book i thought it was going to be a three star but i was so invested in the story. the ending was predictable but i STILL was shook.
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 64 books16.8k followers
March 21, 2021
Full disclosure - Lynette is my friend. She's an Australian author and we met when I was a guest at SupaNova about 6 years ago - back in the good old days when I could travel and attend cons. One of the nicest/sweetest person I've ever met and we stayed friends. The Prison Healer is going to be released in April in Australia, UK, and US and many of the books will be signed (she signed literally thousands of what's known as "tip-ins" - it's the cover page that they'll bind with the rest of the book - truthfully, I'm totally jealous ;)

Just like the title says, the main character is the only healer in this horrible prison. A prison that she's been locked in for the last 10 years (having been sent there with her father at the age of 7 - so you know the people who run the place are truly awful - also warning the guards are brutal to the prisoners and there's mention of violence and female prisoners being raped is implied, but that's not detailed on the page - although the threat of it is).

I really liked the world building (there are maps!! Not one but two and they're lovely!) and the details about how Kiva heals those who are sick are interesting. The side characters are very likable and Tipp quickly became a favorite. The action gets going when the queen of the rebels is arrested and sent to the prison. The woman is sentenced to endure four trials, but she's too sick to complete them. Kiva is determined to keep her alive so takes her place (reminded me a bit of the Hunger Games with Katniss stepping in for her sister). If Kiva survives the trails, she and the rebel queen will be free - if she dies, then so will the queen.

This is the first book of a series and you won't have to wait long for book 2 as it's due out in October 2021.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,370 reviews9,439 followers
June 28, 2021
My April FairyLoot. Click on the spoiler after the picture to see the goodies

I really loved the characters, but I just didn’t love the book enough to give it more than 3 stars. So, I’m trading this one in, but I will read the next book to see what happens.

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,114 reviews1,978 followers
April 19, 2021
An excellent start to what I believe is going to be a trilogy. Definitely a duology at least because book two already has a title and a cover.

I am currently part way through the Akarnae series but when I saw the blurb for The Prison Healer I could not resist it. And it is a good one. My only criticism is that it is too long and the middle section tends to drag as a result. However everything else is really good.

The story is set in an inescapable prison where people tend not to survive the conditions for very long. Kiva has been there for ten years since she was seven and, as she is a healer, she has avoided the worst the prison offers. She also has occasional contact from the outside world which causes her to believe she will one day be rescued. As events turn out she has to save herself in several very dramatic ways.

It is a good story, the characters are interesting and Noni writes it well. Then there is the ending which is beyond brilliant. I never saw it coming at all, and of course it means I will be grabbing book two just as soon as I can.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,335 reviews1,821 followers
April 15, 2021
When you have to take a shower mid-read to wake up because the book is putting you to sleep : my experience with THE PRISON HEALER.

Look, that snarky intro notwithstanding, there were things in this story that felt pretty compelling and or interesting but so much just.. didn't make sense. At first I loved that our setting was limited to this prison, where our protagonist had been locked up for ten years, completely cut off from the world and politics around her, but then I got really.. anxious. The limited scope started to bother me. So did the weird extreme sweeps into d a r k n e s s and d e s p a i r and then, like, light hearted flirting with the new prisoner.

We also had this ACOTAR-esque challenge to undergo but the only people witnessing it were the prisoners? The royalty are banished from watching it and it seems to not actually matter to the world outside the prison? Like.. how is this a thing? Why is it even happening?

And the whole idea of this prison being unchallenged by royalty, not subject to rule by any authority by the Warden (I don't know, I'm now questioning my understanding, so don't quote me on that..), was initially interesting but also how the hell did that fly. Just kind of seemed like an excuse to let some awful shit happen.

And then there was this whole civil war thing.. man, like I said, some really cool elements that just felt a little untethered. Trying to sum up all the plot points is leaving me tired.

As for the characters, well. Suffice it to say we aren't supposed to have many to root for, seeing as we are in a prison full to the brim of nasty characters, but Naari, one of the guards, was the only one I actually liked. I got a lot of whiplash from our lead, the love interest was nice but kind of predictable, there's a younger pseudo-brother character who has an endearing stutter but I got pretty tired of reading about it, and there's.. not much else. Bad guard one, bad guard two, evil guard one, evil guard two, unpleasant prisoners x y z, shifty Warden guy, lots of sick and or dead people.. you get the idea.

What saves this for me was the ending. Because.. okay, sure, yeah, that happened. I am both very excited by it and also now very frustrated by everything up until this point, but, sure, yes. I'm hooked and I will read book two (please say it's only a duology..).

I realize most people would not continue on a series where the initial book only warranted a two but I am not most people.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for luna.
283 reviews13 followers
December 5, 2020
annnnd my most anticipated release of 2021 has become my most disappointing read of 2020.

the prison healer did not feel like lynette noni at all. and the romance 100% felt like sjm.

- protagonist goes on about how much she hates the love interest and will never date him all the while simping for him
- no time to develop plot or characters before protagonist goes straight into “ugh he’s so HOT but i HATE him”
- protagonist assuming everyone wants to date her
- love interest saying “it sucks that someone touched you without your consent so i’ll cheer you up by touching you without your consent” .... seriously .... why would you think that’s a good idea?? and why are readers supposed to think this presumptuous and disgusting behavior is hot??
- seriously. don’t climb into someone’s bed after they just got assaulted. WHY ARE WE ROMANTICIZING THIS.
- getting assaulted doesn’t matter if a cute guy assaults you afterwards!
- having ptsd is a choice apparently
- “i don’t expect anything from you” he says while expecting her to date him. why are they such hypocrites
- if someone abuses you while they’re not sober it doesn’t count
- also a plot twist that undoes pretty much everything the protagonist has said, so once again, why would i trust her?? it literally means she was lying in her OWN thoughts for the entire book like?? it does not add up.

this is the opposite of what i love about lynette’s writing and i’m so sad she went in the typical romanticizing creepy guys and a complete lack of consent direction instead of the amazing and expansive series where characters were more than their dating lives. and they weren’t all liars and hypocrites and i could actually care about them.

i think i’m just going to forget about this series and not let it taint the medoran chronicles for me. that series gave me so much hope that i finally found an author that wrote wholesome and non-problematic books but ... it looks like a certain author ruined that for her. her characters went from sweet and funny to gross and boring and i just ,,, why 🥺. do we really need to rely on nonconsensual relationships and justifying abuse to get readers now?

a note that desperately needs to be made about this shitshow: ptsd is not a choice. you’re allowed to hate your abuser. and you shouldn’t touch people just because you think they like you.

cw: mentions of rape (ongoing theme), mass cremation, graphic depictions of cremation, self harm, torture, torture/abuse being justified by MC, and MC saying that mental illness is a choice
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Hilly.
684 reviews1,219 followers
Shelved as 'dnf-zone'
January 31, 2022
Dnf 28%

I’m sorry but the cringe is real.
Explain to me again why I keep trying to read books blurbed by SJM thinking they’re gonna be good…?
Profile Image for Kelsi.
114 reviews36 followers
August 6, 2022
So basically for the entirety of the book, I was pretty certain that this series just wasn’t for me. BUT THEN the last page happened and I had to reevaluate my whole life.

The sequel is absolutely in transit, on its way to me.
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
301 reviews40.3k followers
January 21, 2020
Rating: 4.5? 4.75?

I've read an early manuscript so will re-read after publication and confirm my rating! But this was SO FREAKING FUN to read, I couldn't put it down. My favourite book from Lynette Noni to date.
Profile Image for Charlotte (Books and Bouquets).
75 reviews21 followers
March 10, 2022
Massive thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Go and read this right now, it’s so hard to put into words the connection I have formed with this book, but just trust me. The prison healer follows Kiva, a prisoner in the ruthless prison Zalindov and the challenges she faces once the notorious Rebel Queen is captured - she must fight to keep the Rebel Queen alive, and do so at whatever cost, including facing the lethal Trial by Ordeal. Can Kiva survive the four elemental tasks, that no other inmate has ever succeeded in doing?

I adored all of the characters in this book, and that isn’t even an exaggeration. Kiva is far from your typical YA female lead, she is so strong and fierce, whilst also being sensitive and caring. Tipp, a young boy with a stutter, was so lovable. It truly makes you reflect on how cruel and unjust a world can be to imprison such a vulnerable child, who is barely capable of hurting a fly. Naari, my baby, is a fantastic character, I hope we get to see a lot more of her personality in the next book. As a whole, all of the characters complimented each other perfectly; where one character lacked, another character excelled. Finally, the love interest is fantastic - I felt myself slowly falling, the more and more interactions we had with him. The slow burn, the angst, the yearning, I adored it all.

“So you’re right, you don’t need me fighting your battles. But if you’ll let me, I’d like to be standing beside you as you fight them.”

Also a BIG YES to the setting - a prison?! I’ve never read a book quite like it and it only makes me want to read more. It was atmospherical, well-developed and such a unique setting - it creates an isolation from the outside world, which I think is going to be a nice contrast if/when we get to experience it.

Undoubtedly, the best thing about this book was the ending. I flew through the last 15% of the book as it was so incredibly fast paced - it was simply riddled with plot twist after plot twist. They felt never-ending and I was constantly left doubting whether what I knew was indeed reality, or whether it would be revealed it had been a lie all along. I cannot wait to see how the next book pans out!

TW: Self-harm, sexual assault

I would recommend this to all YA fantasy fans. 4.5 stars from me.

CAWPILE: 8.14 / 10
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Profile Image for Jodie✨.
70 reviews3,241 followers
April 17, 2021
The prison healer review

WOW. Where do I even begin with this book?

A fantastic story of magic, friends, inner strength and a strong will to survive. With immersive writing, a complex main character and a plot that just keeps getting deeper and deeper the more you read... how could I not love this book?

In this book we follow our main character Kiva who from start to finish I admired and adored. Kiva has been at Zalindov prison for a decade as both the prison healer and a prisoner. She makes herself indispensable which was a smart move in order to survive. Even though she is hated by many of the other prisoners there especially the rebels and their rebel leader Cresta, she cares for everyone the same with a mission to save every life she can whilst battling with her own inner turmoils; doing whatever she can to stay in the good graces of the prison warden. When a new patient arrives bloodied and sick Kiva starts to feel complicated feelings she hasn’t before against her better judgement which already begins to change dynamics in the prison for her. This patient goes by the name of Jarren and there is much to be revealed. Then shortly thereafter Kiva receives another new patient and this patient isn’t just anybody she is the rebel QUEEN. But she’s unconscious and barely alive due to a serious illness that Kiva must figure out to keep her alive to face trial and complete four tasks named the ‘ordeals’. But that isn’t the only thing Kiva has on her plate. When a sickness is spreading through the prison and killing more prisoners than she can deal with, Kiva must figure out a cure and figure out what this sickness is before everything she’s built to survive is threatened. But after she is threatened by the rebel leader cresta, kiva must keep the rebel queen and herself alive by taking her place and facing the four ordeals of fire, air, water and earth - an impossible task that nobody before her has ever completed. Faced with the ordeals, a mystery sickness, a betraying heart and keeping herself and her friends alive, kiva must find her inner strength to keep going and live so she can be free and get back to her family once more.

I loved the world building and elemental magic in this book along with the friendships between our main character and side characters. This book is so cleverly crafted and the further I got the more intricate the plot got making me need to keep reading and reading.

This is an amazing book for all fantasy lovers and the plot twists in this book made me audibly gasp in shock and the ending... I need the second book IMMEDIATELY. Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Leigh Bardugo and Kester Grant.
Profile Image for Paige ♠.
278 reviews741 followers
July 27, 2022
Very solid book and I'm excited to pick up the next one!

I THOUGHT THE SETTING was unique for a YA fantasy book. Pretty much the entire story took place in a Prison.. but it felt like its own community (albeit a pretty terrible community) and I just really liked reading about it

THE STORY ITSELF was really exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, always wanting to find out what happens next! There was an appropriate amount of mystery but you still got some answers, especially at the end!

THE ENDING was so amazing! So many exciting things happened in the last 20% of the book and I could not stop reading! I'm really happy I had a physical copy because the black pages towards the end were a really nice touch too. And that cliff hanger - ahhhh I love this type of storyline so much! Undercover badass 😏

MY LEAST FAVORITE part was the trials and tasks that Kiva had to do. I found the way each task was resolved to be wayyyy too convenient. Kiva didn't actually do anything to solve any of the tasks... she was basically just along for the ride.

🆗 THE ROMANCE was okay. I definitely liked Jared and thought their interactions were cute, but it is definitely a YA romance so don't expect anything more than a couple stolen kisses, etc.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am going to start reading the next one asap once I get it! I just love where this storyline is going and I can't wait to find out what happens next.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
267 reviews224 followers
January 12, 2023
Sin ninguna expectativa comence a leer esta historia y ¡que grata sorpresa me lleve!

Ya comenzando con la dedicatoria de Sarah J. Mass, intuía que se iba a convertir en uno de mis favoritos.

Los libros introductorios, la mayoria de las veces, son bastante tediosos ya que tienen que describirte el mundo y su funcionamiento. El ambiente creado por la autora, esta lleno de peligros y violencia constante, ejercida desde los guardias hacia los presos, siendo la unica regla implicita “sobrevivir”

“Los lazos personales eran peligrosos en Zalindov. El afecto solo conducía al dolor”
“En Zalindov, solo puedes confiar en ti mismo.”

En cuanto a los personajes, he logrado conectar con la protagonista y su historia desde el comienzo. Kiva Meridan, nuestra protagonista, ha conseguido sobrevivir diez años al interior de Zalindov, carcel sumamente peligrosa (no recuerdo si mencionaron que alguien salió libre de ese lugar 🤔). Su función al interior de esta carcel es la de sanadora, habilidad que fue enseñada por su padre.

“Nunca lo olvides, ratoncita: no hay dos personas que se vean iguales, pero cada una son hermosas a nuestra manera. El cuerpo humano es una obra maestra que merece nuestro respeto. Siempre.”

También tenemos a Tipp, amigo de la protagonista, personaje adorable al que solo quieres proteger para que no sufra ningún daño, lo cual es bastante imposible al estar recluido en Zalindov.

Además, de la aparición de un reclusa misterioso, Jaren, quien se une al grupo de amigos de Kiva; la autora nos da retazos de su historia y sobre qué lo llevo a estar recluido.

“Nunca te disculpes por amar a alguien. Incluso cuando duele. Especialmente, cuando duele”.

Y que decir del desenlace, si bien habia algunas cosas que las veía venir, pero ese final, de infarto, no me lo esperaba y ya estoy esperando la segunda parte. Lo único que podría mencionar como negativo es que el romance pasa a ser secundario a la trama ☹️.
Profile Image for Shaghayegh.
267 reviews67 followers
July 8, 2022
از اون دست کتابایی بود که با اینکه تقریبا حدسم درست از آب در اومد اما از مسیر اتفاقات و شخصیت پردازیش به شدت لذت بردم و بی‌صبرانه منتظرم تا دو جلد بعدی رو هم بخونم.
Profile Image for mads.
317 reviews340 followers
July 13, 2022
“Our scars define us. They tell a story of courage and survival. They tell of who we are at our deepest being, of the challenges we've faced and overcome”

TW: abuse, addiction, animal cruelty, blood, cannibalism, child abuse, child death, claustrophobia, confinement, death, death of a loved one, domestic abuse, drug abuse, emotional abuse, fire/fire injury, grief, gore, injury/injury detail, medical content, medical trauma, mental illness, misogyny, murder, rape, self-harm, sexual assault, sexual violence, suicide/suicidal thoughts, torture, violence.

Actual Rating: 4.5✶

Well... damn.

I really, really liked this book. I was completely invested the whole way through and had the joy of predicting things left and right, but not in a way that felt like the book was overly predictable because that wasn't it. It was more the satisfied kind of "I knew it" whenever something was revealed.

And now I feel so stupid after that ending because what the actual hell was that and how did I not see that coming?

I need... something like... idk, 5-7 business days to process what I just read? The next book immediately? Chocolate and popcorn? All the above.

This book was good. It reminded me of everything I love about YA fantasy, which I needed right now as I've felt really meh about a lot of my reads lately. Nothing has wowed me or left me feeling completely gripped by the story in a long while, not the way this did.

I will say, if the long list of TW didn't give it away, there's a lot of heavy content in this book. The book takes place in a prison and as such, it's not an uplifting books by any means so I wouldn't exactly recommend it to more sensitive readers.

But I loved this and I need book 2.

Like yesterday.
Profile Image for Christine Manzari.
Author 12 books1,060 followers
April 19, 2021
I need an additional five stars to give to this ending because I was not expecting that twist!!!!! I cannot wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
229 reviews31 followers
November 2, 2022
I loved this book! I formed immediate attachments to so many characters! The story felt well plotted and I loved the setting. And the twists!!!! They kept coming!!! Very well done, especially that last one.

The characters are well developed, Tipp had me sobbing!!! I would literally jump in front of a bullet for that kid!
Jaren is so endearing! How do you not like him? He’s immediately one if my favorite book dudes. So sweet!
Naari is badass and I love her.
And if course the main character Kiva, she is super interesting but so many questions!
Starting next book in 3…2…1…
Profile Image for Brenda.
3,974 reviews2,587 followers
October 3, 2021
Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan was only seven when she was incarcerated, along with her father, in the notorious prison, Zalindov, where no one gained freedom. Kiva was now the prison healer, following in her father’s footsteps after he died, and while the people who sought her help were criminals, Kiva’s destiny was to heal. Beside her was eleven-year-old Tipp, an orphan who Kiva had sworn to look out for to Tipp’s mother. Tipp was an enthusiastic child, always happy to help even while living within the prison walls. When new inmates were brought in, Kiva tended to them, making sure they were healthy, had their number while she carved the Z on the back of their hands. Kiva hated doing that, but had no choice.

When a new inmate, along with two others who were already dead, arrived, Kiva couldn’t help but notice the difference in him to normal new inmates. But she knew he wouldn’t last as he’d be set to work in the tunnels. But it was when the Rebel Queen was captured and brought to the infirmary, that Kiva’s real troubles began. With the Rebel Queen very ill, she was set to do the Trial by Ordeal – four different trials; air, fire, water and earth – and Kiva knew she would die, as she hadn’t regained consciousness. With the message to keep her alive, Kiva nominated herself as the person to do the trials in place of the Rebel Queen. Was she mad?! No one had ever survived the trials – she was sure to die…

The Prison Healer is the 1st in the Prison Healer Trilogy by Aussie author Lynette Noni and it was brilliant – as is all Ms Noni’s work. The tension, the horrors of the prison, the brutality of the guards and taking care to bury your emotions so as to feel nothing for anyone, not to feel devastated when they inevitably died – all took their toll. I’m really looking forward to #2, The Gilded Cage, very soon. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Alex (The Scribe Owl).
340 reviews107 followers
May 3, 2021
3.5/5 stars!

A million thanks to Edelweiss for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review is based off an advance copy, so some things might be changed on publishing.

I was so excited to read this, seeing as it was the first ARC I’ve earned and the fact that it was one of the ones I wanted to most! I’m a sucker for a book in a prison environment, and healers are always a welcome change from the normal femme-fatale kind of protagonist, so this was everything I love in one perfect bundle!

Kiva is the prison healer at Zalindov, the notorious prison for the worst kinds of criminals. Then one day, the infamous Rebel Queen is dropped off in her infirmary deathly ill. Kiva is ordered to keep her alive long enough for her to participate in the Trial by Ordeal, a series of elemental challenges reserved for the worst of criminals. If they succeed, they prove their innocence and walk free of the prison. If they fail, they’re already dead. When a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives telling her to keep the queen alive, Kiva risks her own life to take the Rebel Queen’s place and complete the Ordeals for a chance for both of them to walk free.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, from Naari’s quiet calm to Jaren’s charm to Tipp’s unfailing chipper attitude to Kiva’s grim outlook. Each character had different skills and strengths, so it was nice having a diverse cast both in appearance and personality wise.

The worldbuilding was amazingly crafted and executed and the writing only acted to its advantage! The prison was perfectly devised, and the tones of injustice and grimness amplified an already masterful job. A+ in my book!

If I had to pick out a few things I dislike, I would only have two. Keep in mind that these might have been changed in post.

All in all, this was such a fun read! I would definitely recommend it, and with that insane cliffhanger of an ending, you better believe I’m going to read the sequel!

Content and trigger warnings: Abuse, blood, graphic injuries, death, drugs, loss of a loved one, mentioned rape, self harm, torture, and violence.
Profile Image for Melissa (Melissasbooks).
34 reviews603 followers
March 23, 2022
✨This book was absolutely amazing. I was told that the ending would be shocking but I did not expect THIS.
Profile Image for Tilly.
1,217 reviews144 followers
August 8, 2021
5 Stars

I was so excited about this book and it definitely didn't let me down! If you enjoy YA fantasy then I can't imagine you not enjoying this book. I haven't read anything like it as it is SO unique.

The story is about Kiva who has been in a notorious prison for over 10 years. She has survived when many around her have perished due to the awful conditions and brutal prison guards. Being the prison healer has been her saving grace. The story follows Kiva as she makes new friends and struggles on in the prison. One day the queen of the rebel faction against the ruling moanrchy is brought in unconscious and incredibly unwell. The rebel queen is sentenced to do 4 impossible trials for her freedom. Kiva takes on her sentencing as the older woman is in no state to do it herself and Kiva could earn both of their freedom. The story is gripping and filled with so many twists and turns, most of which I didn't see coming.
The story is fantastic but the characters are even better! Kiva is such an interesting character and I loved learning her story and seeing how she survives. She is so loyal and caring even though she tries to close herself off. The other characters, Jaren, Tipp and Naari added so much to the story and their unique characters and personalities were great to get to know. They all served different purposes and I loved them all.
The writing is gripping! So well written and tapped into all of my emotions! There are alot of tough moments and I will post the trigger warnings below but they all served a purpose and none of them were gratuitous.

Basically...read this book!! I cannot recommend it enough and I am desperate for the next book!!

TW: Talk of sexual abuse, scenes of physical and emotional abuse, bullying, traumatic scenes, violence.

Please note that I was #gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ashley Haas.
191 reviews24 followers
May 15, 2021
PERFECTION!!! *chef’s kiss*


Y’all! I’m speechless right now!!
I just... I mean... This book blew my mind so much that I can’t even have a complete thought!
The best way I can describe what
I’m feeling right now is... it’s like I was starving and then I ate a gourmet meal and now I just feel complete. Pure bliss.

Okay, that might make me a fatty for describing it like that but I love food and that’s the best way I could describe it lol. 🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️

This will be one of those books that you wish you could read for the first time over and over again. ❤️
Profile Image for Valentina Ghetti.
142 reviews1,463 followers
February 4, 2023
The prison healer narra la storia di Kiva, una schiava guaritrice all’interno della disumana prigione di Zalindov. Ogni giorno nella fortezza passa uguale all’altro, fino a quando a varcare le porte della prigione non è la pericolosa e a lungo braccata Regina Ribelle.
La regina è stata condannata al processo per Ordalia: una sfida che consiste nel superare 4 prove legate agli elementi; se ne uscirà indenne sarà liberata.
Ma Tilda non è decisamente nelle condizioni di affrontare alcunché, sarà qualcun altro a fare suo questo fardello e cercare di sopravvivere in nome della sconosciuta, ma tanto desiderata, libertà.

Questo libro è un mix di tutto ciò che amo, è un fantasy con una love story abbastanza secondaria, strutturato a prove e con un finale che fa perdere la sanità mentale.
Lo stile è scorrevolissimo e la Noni è sa caratterizzare i personaggi in maniera sublime.
Siamo solo a febbraio ma potrei aver già trovato il mio libro dell’anno.
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,300 reviews340 followers
November 30, 2021

I'm actually super bummed that this had as many ridiculous tropes as it did.

It could have been so much and instead it opted to just be like everything else, with minimal creativity.

My heart is sad.

The promising plot tells of Kiva, who has been a prisoner in Zalindov for over a decade, working as their healer. She carves the mark into inmates when they arrive and does whatever it takes to survive. However some new arrivals and talks of a rebel queen leading an uprising on the outside are about to make things a little more interesting for Kiva.

Firstly, I just didn't like her. Kiva was the very first cliché - the girl who won't let anyone get close because that way she won't get hurt. But for a girl who refuses to get close to anyone she sure gets emotionally attached, AND ends up with a lot of friends willing to do anything for her.

Secondly, I feel like there was some questionable consistency. This particular band of prisoners seemingly having the run of the joint, Jaren being everywhere all the time even though he's supposed to be killing himself working these brutal shifts, Kiva spending ten years doing whatever it takes to survive then suddenly being willing to throw it all away on one random woman, having a magical potion on hand for everything ... like there were just a lot of things I raised my eyebrows at and even more that got a full 360 eye roll.

Thirdly, THE TRIALS. What a complete disappointment they were. I'll refrain from detailing on account of not wanting to spoil for anyone, but I was utterly underwhelmed by what they all involved.

Now, all those complaints aside, I didn't totally hate it. I'm frustrated by how ridiculous and cliché and nonsensical so much of it seemed, but I still wanted to keep reading, and I'm still curious about how the rest of the series is going to go down. So it wasn't completely terrible. I just didn't fall in love with any of the characters like I wanted to, and all of the twists were so trope-y that I was frustrated by them rather than entertained.

It wasn't a terrible story, but it's definitely lacking the richness of the Akarnae series. It's gloomy yet much lighter than you'd expect for a story set in a prison where people are constantly worked to death, and there are a lot of different elements that don't really gel well together so it seems a bit chaotic in the writing.

All in all, I was mostly disappointed because I was expecting great things and ended up with mediocre, done-to-death things. Hopefully the sequel is better.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
881 reviews759 followers
April 4, 2022
2.5 yikes-i'm-sorry stars

So.... I honestly debating DNF'ing this story for the entire time I was reading it. I had such a hard time staying invested. Given the sheer number of glowing reviews, this sound like it was another case of "it's not you, it's me!"

If you've read the popular hits in YA fantasy, then you've read this book by proxy. Or at least, it was that way for me this time.

Writing: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Enjoyment: ★★

I really, really don't have much to say about this one, y'all, because to me this was the epitome of that category of YA reads that essentially takes a bunch of tropes, popular concepts, and character arcs from other stories and mishmashes them into something new-ish with an attractive pacing and plot.

"No idea is new, everything is inspired by what comes before" and all of those philosophies aside, when you decide to remix from the greats you've got to... remix them enough that I don't sit there the whole time pointing to this, that, and the other thing that is clearly inspired from other stories.

There is NOTHING wrong with this book for doing that, I've been suckered in by other books that do this and loved their renditions, but this one fell on the wrong side of that line for me personally. I do not mean to harsh anyone's vibes if they loved it, or if some of these tropes are new for them, what have you.

Because I could tell what elements were coming from what tales, the twists and reveals were so, SO easy to guess. So I felt no stakes, no investment in finishing the novel. I knew the ending, so why take the journey? And this particular book didn't give me enough from chapter to chapter in terms of character development or plot to make that predictable series of final steps worth it to be as a reader.

Some of the selling points of The Prison Healer include its pacing and sense of plot progression—if nothing else, this read was quick and to the point with no lingering sense of dragged-out moments or fluff. This was a bare bones story filled with action and plot development sequences, and that is something I appreciate in a YA read.

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Profile Image for Emily.
213 reviews703 followers
March 2, 2022
I loved this so much I knew what was coming but I was still shocked by it
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