Trigger Warning: Drug abuse, self harm, violence
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 (Goodreads, 2021).
Things I Enjoyed: I thought that this was a good start to the series. Lynette Nonni engages in good world building giving us a glimpse into not only the prison world of Zalindov, but also into the world at large. By the end of the book we have some idea of the politics and the brewing conflict that Kiva is about to find herself in.
The plot kept my attention from start to finish and I thought the pacing was very well done, starting out slowly but picking up with each chapter. By the end I found myself staying up late into the night to see how this story would end.
Finally, this is the rare book where I have found myself invested in the stories of most of the characters, both major and minor. Of course I want to see what’s in store for Kiva and Jaren. Will those two be endgame or be torn apart by politics? I’d love to learn more about Naari and see what her role will be in the next book. And I’m curious to see how sweet Tipp will handle his altered circumstances.
Things I didn’t like/would change/confused me: I found the ending surprising, but also confusing. It made for a good plot twist, but I wish there had been more build up towards it.
Overall thoughts: This was a 4 out of 5 star read for me. As I’ve already said, this is a great start to the trilogy and I’m looking forward to seeing where Lynette Noni takes this series next. If you enjoy YA fantasy definitely pick this one up.
Quotes I Enjoyed/Found Significant:
Attachments were dangerous at Zalindov. Caring only led to pain”
Even if the rebels didn’t arrive in time to free them before the Ordeal, Kiva was going to fight, and keep fighting, because there were people in here who needed her. And there were people beyond Zalindov’s walls who she was determined to see again