4.5/5 stars

*I received an e-ARC of The Prison Healer from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. A big thank to you Raincoast Books for giving me the opportunity to read this!

CW: self-harm, drug abuse, physical abuse, physical abuse from a family member, sexual abuse.

Guess who finally has a new laptop! I’m very excited to be back to regularly posting my book reviews and book box unboxings, and for my first post back, I want to share my thoughts on The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. If you’re in Ottawa and heard screaming, that was just me finishing this book. This was a book that started off as a decent 3.5-star read and left me battling with myself on what my final rating would be once I finished. The more I thought about it, the more I loved this book and felt the urge to re-read it ASAP. Luckily, I’m fairy certain one of my book boxes will have a special edition of it, so I won’t have to wait long to read it again!

The Prison Healer is told from the perspective of Kiva Meridan, a young healer who has been locked away in Zalindov prison, known for its forced hard labour and high death rates, for 10 years. Outside of the prison, rebellion shakes a nearby country, and when the Rebel Queen is captured and arrives at Zalindov deathly ill, Kiva receives a coded message from the outside ordering her to keep the queen alive until help arrives. With the queen set to face trial through a series of deadly elemental challenges, Kiva volunteers to take her place, fully aware that no one has ever survived the trial.

I’m still not over how beautifuly the world and characters were put together in this book! The world building was so immersive and each of the trials Kiva faces were described in such detail that I completely felt the panic and stress that Kiva herself was experiencing. The characters themselves were also SO well written! Some have their own secrets that keep you eager to discover them, even after the final sentence, and others (like Tipp <3) provide so much warmth and positivity in an otherwise bleak setting.

While there are some predictable surprises, there are definitely a lot of things that I did not even come close to anticipating. It felt like it was going to be one of those eye-roll happily ever after book until I got to the last few paragraphs and proceeded to scream internally. Even if you don’t find the main story appealling (it can be a little slow at times), I highly suggest pushing through to the end where you’ll (maybe) join me in internal screaming.

The Prison Healer gave me a lot of Throne of Glass vibes, so if you’re a fan of that series, I highly recommend checking this out. There is a slight cliffhanger (nothing extreme a la Aurora Burning, but enough to leave you feeling aghast), but thankfully the wait for the second book (The Gilded Cage) isn’t that long! The Prison Healer is out on April 13th, 2021. You can pre-order it online from your local bookstore.

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