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, K
Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.
|“There is nothing I can tell you that will prepare you for what you’re about to experience, I’m sorry, that’s just the reality of Zalindov. This place will test you to your limits and beyond. But it’s not impossible to survive it. I’m living proof of that.”|
This was one incredibly dark yet intriguing book that I appreciate having the opportunity to read prior to its publication date.
Normally I cannot stomach a book with such dark themes however being a well crafted fantasy book, I was able to get through to the end. The book is well structured and very addictive, I found myself caring about the characters and wanting to know what happens to the characters right to the end – especially Tipp, whom we get to meet in the beginning of the book. I do have to advise of trigger warnings as this book is indeed a very dark tale with essence of war, abuse, torture and violence within the prison.
Kiva is a great character to follow. I felt she was strong, compassionate and I was able to connect with her emotions. Kiva does her best to navigate day to day inside the horrors of Zaindon – the Prison where this story takes place, a dark place where no one leaves unless in a box and really brings to mind a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Kiva is there from a very young age, so she virtually grows up in the prison however she finds a sense of purpose and strength as she becomes The Prison Healer. I admired how she interacts with the other characters we meet: Jaren, Tipp and Naari.
The story itself progressed at a brisk pace with things taking interesting turns as Kiva meets the characters along the way and The Rebel Queen who is brought in and Kiva is under instruction to keep her alive. I feel the story was more character driven than plot driven and the character development is what I feel to be a key strength of this book. When you feel the emotions of each character and really come to care for each of them, you know the author has done very well in constructing the characters.
One thing I want to mention is that major twist right at the end of the story – I will not disclose it but I will let you know, it does leave you on a cliffhanger which makes me grateful to see the sequel will be out later this year!
Again, I warn of the dark themes that can be trigger warnings. This book is unlike anything the wonderful Lynette has written before so please do not go into this book thinking you will see the Medoran Chronicles for example. This book sets itself apart from her previous works. I recommend this to dark fantasy readers and perhaps an older young adult audience. A solid start to a brand new series.
With special thanks to Penguin Random House for an advanced readers copy of this book.