Monday 19 April 2021

The Prison Healer

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (Penguin Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781760897512

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Kiva Meridan is a seventeen-year-old girl who has remained a captive of the death prison ‘Zalindov’ for 10 years. Most of the prisoners become labourers and are worked until their demise, if not killed by a cruel guard or a rampant illness first. No one leaves alive.

Wise beyond her years, Kiva earns herself a place in the infirmary as the ‘prison healer’ after she saves the life of one of the guards. Her additional role, much to the abhorrence of other prisoners (and her own self-loathing), is as an informant to one of the Wardens. Fuelled by coded notes from her family, smuggled into the prison via a third party, Kiva holds hope that one day her family will come and rescue her. She just needs to bide her time.

When the ‘Rebel Queen’ (an enemy of the kingdom) arrives at the Zalindov infirmary close to death, a fresh encrypted message reaches Kiva: ‘Don’t let her die. We are coming’. As the prison healer, Kiva’s job is to help anybody in need, however, the stakes are higher now that her family is coming to save her! Furthermore, the Rebel Queen must be kept alive to endure the gruelling and torturous test of guilt or innocence: ‘The Trial by Ordeal’ which includes four elemental tasks… that no one has ever survived.

The Prison Healer is an engaging young adult novel, highly recommended for those who enjoy reading tales of fantasy and survival. It would be suitable for a mature audience aged 15 years and older, due to some dark themes. This is the first book in an upcoming trilogy.

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