My Rating ~ Five Stars
RELEASE DATE: 30 March 2021
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Here at Zalindov, the only person you can trust is yourself.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book, vis Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review!
Kiva has been in a terrible, unforgiving prison for 10 years, working as the prison’s healer. The prisoners are dangerous and the guards are worse, save for her helper, Tipp, an 11 year old boy. There are rebels within the prison walls, leading a rebellion against the crown and when the rebel queen is brought in, close to death, Kiva is expected to save her. Even if the queen is to face an elemental trial no-one is expected to survive. With the rebel queen making no progress to regain her health, and the lives of people she loves on the line, Kiva volunteers to stand in for her in the Trials. Her family have been sending secret notes for years, promising to come for her , but will they arrive in time to save her from the deadly trials?
I barely dared to breathe the whole time I was reading this book! Graphic and often horrifying, I felt a huge sense of panic for the characters I adored! I am a huge sucker for books with trials or races and this one was quite unique, especially being set inside a prison. Although I was intrigued by the different elemental magic abilities, I was kind of glad they didn’t entirely take over this story (although I’m sure we’ll see more of it in the next book), keeping the main focus on building the character’s relationships worked really well for the first book in the series. It brought me to the end of the book deeply caring about what happens to them next!
The entire story was a thrilling ride and I honestly wish I could have read it all in one sitting. I was incredibly glad to discover this isn’t a standalone, because I’m not at all ready to say goodbye to these characters!
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