The Prison Healer Book Review


Alexandra Kimbrell

The paperback version of The Prison Healer, the first novel in a three-part series by Lynette Noni.

Alexandra Kimbrell, Reporter

A new fantasy world, full of secrets and a political revolution with the addition of magic, romance, and found family.


That’s the synopsis I would give The Prison Healer. It wasn’t what I expected it to be.


The synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads, reads like this:


“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.”


So, essentially, The Prison Healer is a book centered around the life of Kiva Meridan, a prisoner in Zalindov. Zalindov is a high-security prison in a fantasy world, sharing borders with four countries. 


It’s a Teen Reads book (which means Battle of the Books teams have to read it). I picked this book to read since it reminded me a bit of Poison Study. I had high expectations that I would probably read the book in a day or two, since I usually like books in the fantasy genre. 


It took me a month to finish The Prison Healer


It took me so long to finish it because the pacing always felt off and the plot only picked up somewhere halfway through the book. The book was very slow to start with, with only a chapter or two of action to break the monotony. 


I can applaud the world-building, at least. There are several kingdoms (eight to be exact). Each kingdom is mentioned (briefly) and given an example of what type of life the citizens live there. But it’s vague. The world seems interesting, until you realize you don’t know much about it. This is because the main character (Kiva) has not been outside the prison in years. But she does gain a little information- just enough to have you keep on reading. 


There’s political turmoil seemingly everywhere, but it doesn’t seem to help the worldbuilding. The rebellions and movements are the setting, but they’re not incorporated that well. Even if the book takes place at the Zalindov prison. The hinted political turmoil is more like a constant reminder from your mom to do some chores instead of a detail that makes you more interested in the book. Then you’re expected to be surprised when the plot twist is revealed at the very end of the book (which is directly tied to those reminders).


So, if you’re interested in the rebellion and politics of a new world, this isn’t the best choice (unless you like it to be superficial). I wouldn’t say this is a character-driven story either, since every character has been done before. 

This book is part of a trilogy, so the other two books might be better. But The Prison Healer wasn’t a solid introduction to Kiva Meridan and her journey.