I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Series: The Prison Healer #2
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: October 2021
WARNING: This post contains mild spoilers of the first book in the series, The Prison Healer.
Kiva trades one cage for another when she leaves behind a deadly prison for a deceptive palace in this dark and dangerous sequel to The Prison Healer, which Sarah J. Maas called “a must-read.”
Kiva Meridan is a survivor.
She survived not only Zalindov prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance. For the past ten years, her only goal was to reunite with her family and destroy the people responsible for ruining their lives. But now that she has escaped Zalindov, her mission has become more complicated than ever.
As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov—her siblings and their beliefs have changed too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.
Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.
I read The Prison Healer earlier this year and I had really enjoyed it (minus one element I still haven’t gotten over!). So I was really looking forward to reading The Gilded Cage and seeing where Kiva’s story would go next. And I was not disappointed!
The Gilded Cage is a very strong second book in the trilogy and does a great job of carrying the story forward. Kiva and her friends managed to escape from Zalindov and we now get to follow her as she tries to navigate her new life outside of prison… living with the very people she has vowed to destroy.
I really enjoyed the introduction of Jaren’s family as well as Kiva’s siblings, as both added depth to these characters. Twists and turns and lies abound as Kiva struggles to decide whom she can trust – and I wondered it with her. There were a couple of things I could absolutely see coming from miles off (fantastic foreshadowing!) but as always the author managed to surprise and threw in a massive bomb right at the end. I don’t know how I’ll manage to wait until the last book in the trilogy!!
This book does not suffer from middle book syndrome at all, delivering a very strong and compelling plot, finally giving us some great worldbuilding and introducing some memorable secondary characters. Kiva remains a compelling character, especially as she is torn between her feelings for Jaren and her loyalty towards her family. Her struggle is very real and understandable, but at the same time it drags on for a long time and ends up being quite repetitive, as she goes around in circles, makes decisions she never acts on and starts right back at the beginning again. Not going to lie, I was incredibly annoyed with her for most of the book because of her indecisiveness, and what looked like a devolution on her part.
Still, The Gilded Cage had me racing through, utterly gripped to the pages and desperate to know where it all will lead to. Can’t wait for the final book!