Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is a survivor. For ten years, she has worked as the healer in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, making herself indispensable. Kept afloat by messages of hope from her family, Kiva has one goal and one goal only: stay alive.
Then one day the infamous Rebel Queen arrives at the prison on death’s door and Kiva receives a new message: Don’t let her die. We are coming.
The queen is sentenced to 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. Aware the sickly queen has little chance of making it through the Trials alive, Kiva volunteers to take her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
But no one has ever survived.
And 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.
Good start, I’ve never read a fantasy book set entirely in a prison, so I was excited.
First couple of chapters were really strong.
And then, well, to tell the truth I’m not sure what happened. I didn’t not enjoy it but suddenly something was missing.
I wasn’t quite sure I understood the world outside of the prison enough to really care about it all. Our MC Kiva was interesting enough but everything felt so uninspired for me that I read it with not a lot invested.
These rebels are just so unorganized, I mean yea it happens but when you have this sort of plot you’d think they’d have at least one group with their shit together.
Also, like, why did Kiva not get suspicious of the super nice guard earlier? Not that we have reason to dislike said guard I just felt it was a little too obvious.
Pacing was alright, I felt it dragged, there was too much unused time between the trials and it left me a little bored. I will say the writing style was pleasant though!
I wanted more from the side characters we were inside Kiva’s head so much that it just again took me away from the rest of the story and paled it in comparison. Tipp was my absolute favorite character and honestly the book should have been about him because he was the most interesting by far and the sweetest little cinnamon roll.
BUT THEN AGAIN.
Saying that about being inside Kiva’s head she’s apparently the world’s most unreliable narrator. Everything is just a genuine reaction in her thoughts but at the very end apparently all these things she questioned she actually knew the answer for the whole time in regards to her connection to a certain Rebel Queen.
I was so baffled I had to stop and try not to just …..no words, I have no words.
Then, Kiva turns into this completely different person personality wise and I can only wonder why the hell she didn’t reveal this in her thoughts before. I get it, some narrators are unreliable but I was left unsure if she was unreliable to herself or if she knew she had an audience in some manner. Idk. IDK.
The love interest was boring and uninteresting until the end and though I didn’t understand or agree with a lot of actions/decisions I did find myself wanting to know what will happen next.
So here we go, my word vomit review about a book that though lackluster, puzzled me and gave me enough at the end that I will read the sequel.
I read this book for part of the Fairyloot readalong for it! 3/5 cups of coffee, it was nothing special but it wasn’t horrible, wasn’t as solid as my other 3 star reads, but it had promise.