The Prison Healer Book Review

The Prison Healer Book Review


“Death arrived at twilight.” The author, Lynette Noni, introduces our main character, Kiva Meridan. She was ripped away from her family at the young age of 7. The Royal Guard accosted her father, Faran Meridan. They were planning to arrest him on charges of “suspected treason against the crown.” Kiva’s brother, Kerrin, made a fatal mistake. He attempted to assault the guards with a dagger. In the blink of an eye, he was on the ground, a sword sticking out of his chest. Kiva fought the guards as well, leading to her imprisonment along with her father.

Ten years later, Kiva is the lead prison healer at Zalindov, the death prison. She lost her father a year into their sentence. He had fallen ill, a stomach sickness.
As the healer, she is required to mark the new prisoners with Zalindov’s signature Z. She must carve it into their flesh with a hot blade, and it is her most dreaded part of the job. But she knows what happens if she refuses, as she learned when she was 12 years old.
Raz, a non-prisoner, non-guard, Zalindov employee, sneaks notes to Kiva in the new arrivals’ clothing. Kiva receives a note stating, “We are safe. Stay alive. We will come.”
As she is cleaning up the newest arrival, she asks the guard at the door for a fresh pail of water. The guard, Naari Arell, asks where Kiva’s assistant is. The Warden reassigned him to the kitchens. The guard retrieves him and assures that he is assigned the job in the infirmary.
The majority of the other guards are known for their brutality. With nicknames like “Bones” (for snapping prisoner’s bones) and “The Butcher.” Kiva automatically noticed that Naari is different. Especially after Naari saved her life three times.

Kiva: “Thank you”
Naari: “For what?”
Kiva: “For not being like the rest of them.”

Prison Healer life

Kiva’s 11-year-old assistant, Tipp, was like a younger brother to her. As a small child, he refused to leave his mother’s side, so the Royal Guard arrested him as well. His mother passed away, and after crying for days, he said five words. “She’d want me to live.”

The guards bring three new arrivals to the infirmary. 2 dead, 1 alive. After Kiva has finished cleaning and stitching up the alive one, Naari tells her to give him a tour of the prison. Usually, that is not her job, but there’s something special about this arrival.

Kiva: “I figure the first place you visit should be your last, welcome to the Morgue.”

The author introduces Mot, the head mortician. He had a strange fascination with death. Previously an apothecary, he specialized in making remedies for illnesses. His incarceration came when he was intentionally misdiagnosing his patients so that he could try his less traditional treatments.

  • The new arrival told Kiva his name, Jaren, although Kiva tried to convince him that it didn’t matter. In Zalindov, they were nothing but a number. She wasn’t “Kiva,” she was “the healer.”
  • Kiva gave him a full tour of the inner part of the prison, explaining what each of the buildings are for.
  • She tells him about the “Abyss,” Zalindov’s punishment block. She says that many don’t survive the trip. The guards, Bones and the Butcher, are quite “creative.”
  • The final stop on the tour was his cell block. Seven, the same as Kiva.
  • The next day, Kiva discovers that Jaren was assigned to work in the tunnels. Tunnelers and Quarriers are the most fatal job allocations, she fears he won’t live past a week.

The Warden

Kiva has a visit with the Warden. He uses her as a spy against the growing rebel movement within the prison. This has earned her several unfortunate nicknames among her peers. Including “the Heartless Carver,” “the Princess of Death,” and a few less PG ones. She is always very careful with the information she gives him. At this meeting, he was disappointed that she didn’t have any more information about the rebels. He sent her away with a sinister warning. She may have been a valuable, irreplaceable healer before. But there are other that can fill her spot. She is expendable, and her only use is providing him with information. She must do so, her life depends on it.

Read it!!

Before I go any further, I must deliver an obligatory… READ IT!!! This book is incredible. If you’re into Fantasy, and books with more twists and turns than a pretzel, this is the book for you!

Content warnings: It does have a significant amount of violence, mostly implied, but some directly stated. Also, there is a bit of swearing. It implies SA a few times, so if that’s a triggering topic, check out my next book review. It’s a lot more tame. Prostitution is also mentioned once.

Fun Fact: This book is on the High School SSYRA reading list.

Tilda Corentine

The guards brought another new arrival. She is the “Rebel Queen,” the leader of the rebel movement, Tilda Corentine. Kiva tells the Rebel story.

Long ago, there was a husband and wife, Torvin Corentine and Sarana Vallentis. Torvin was one of the greatest healers of all time, with the power to heal and manipulate the human body. Sarana had the power of the four elements. Earth, air, water, and fire. No one has possessed all four since her death. Torvin ruled with integrity and heart, healing anyone who sought his help. Sarana was corrupted. She was jealous of her husband, and as the darkness inside her grew, she no longer wanted to share the crown. She attacked him, leaving him badly injured. She told the world that he had turned on her, and that it was only self defense. The kingdom turned on Torvin, he had no allies so he was forced to flee. Some believe that he died, although the rebels believe that Tilda is his great-great-great-great granddaughter.

Kiva found a note in Tilda’s blanket. “Don’t let her die. We are coming.”

The Trial by Ordeal

Tilda was sentenced to Trial by Ordeal. It was very rare, the last occurrence being nearly 30 years before. It consisted of four elemental tasks, Trial by Air, Trial by Fire, Trial by Water, and Trial by Earth. If she survived every task, which is only possible if she had some kind of elemental magic, then she would go free. The problem is that Tilda was VERY sick. She could hardly eat or stand, let alone survive a competition that has only been survived a few times. Kiva had a week to make her better, or Tilda will die.


Late at night, after Kiva’s shift as the healer, she headed back to her dorm to shower. The ice cold water only ran for a second before she was yanked out by her hair. She screamed, but the individual threatened, “Scream again, and you’ll regret it.” She stopped struggling when she recognized Cresta’s voice. Cresta is the leader of the prison rebel movement. Kiva realized that she could get information for the Warden. She quickly put her clothing on. Cresta says, “You’re going to save Tilda Corentine’s life.” Make sure she stays alive long enough to be rescued. Or else, Tipp dies.

Kiva immediately went to see the Warden. He was not sympathetic. He says that if Tilda doesn’t live to see the trials, then Kiva’s life will be in danger as well.

The Trial by Ordeal, contd.

With all these reasons to keep Tilda alive, Kiva approached the Trial date with understandable anxiety. Especially since Tilda’s condition hadn’t gotten any better. Her family hadn’t come. The rebels hadn’t come to rescue Tilda. “Don’t let her die.” Kiva repeated the mantra. “If she dies, he dies.

The day arrived. The entire prison population was their audience. Tilda is escorted out to the gallows. Kiva realized what she had to do. She forced her way through the crowd, to the top of the platform. The audience became quiet, watching, waiting. “Who are you, girl,” a guard demanded. Don’t let her die.

“My name is Kiva Meridan, and I claim her sentence as my own.

Now you have to read the book to find out what happens.