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 #3
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: June 2022
This is the final book in the Prison Healer trilogy. Although I take every care to avoid spoilers in my reviews, in order to talk about book 3 there could be minor spoilers for books 1 and 2 of the series.
She’d failed them. All of them. And now she was paying the price.
Kiva thought she knew what she wanted—revenge. But feelings change, people change … everything has changed.
After what happened at the palace, Kiva is desperate to know if her friends and family are safe, and whether those she wronged can ever forgive her. But with the kingdoms closer to the brink of war than they’ve ever been, and Kiva far away from the conflict, more is at stake than her own broken heart.
A fresh start will mean a perilous quest, forcing mortal enemies and uneasy allies together in a race against the clock to save not just Evalon, but all of Wenderall.
With her loyalties now set, Kiva can no longer just survive—she must fight for what she believes in. For who she believes in. But with danger coming from every side, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, does she have what it takes to stand, or will she fall?
The Blood Traitor picks up exactly where the previous book had left us, with Kiva right back in the place she had so desperately tried to escape. I hadn’t re-read the previous books in preparation for this one, but it was fairly easy to pick up the thread again, and there were plenty of reminders here and there of previous events and characters.
Kiva’s character has been a constant high point in this series for me, and she continues to shine in this book as well. We find her hitting rock bottom at the beginning of the book and follow her journey to (self-)forgiveness throughout. I really liked how she was portrayed even in her most vulnerable moments, and the fierceness, compassion and loyalty she keeps displaying, and her character arc was very satisfying.
I also loved reconnecting with old favourites (looking at you, Caldon and Tipp!) as well as meeting some new characters and getting to know others better. As in the previous books, the group dynamic works really well and I love the found family trope here: there is always a real sense of connection and true affection between the various characters, and it is just delightful to see it play out even in very challenging circumstances. The antagonists are, by contrast, quite bland and end up being stereotypical villains that could almost switch between themselves without anyone noticing, which is really a shame as they had so much potential for nuance.
One major issue I had with this book was the way Jaren’s character changed from previous books. While I completely understand he is also still reeling, processing the traumatic events from the previous book, and coming to terms with the consequences, I found his behaviour towards Kiva to be absolutely horrible and definitely not in line with the Jaren we’ve come to know in the rest of the series. He is borderline abusive and full on gaslights her, and I found it very hard to accept how this was just glossed over and completely accepted by Kiva in the name of love, using his suffering and trauma to justify his whole behaviour as if she weren’t suffering and traumatised herself. I am also not a fan of the miscommunication trope and found it to feature much too heavily here for me to truly enjoy their attempts at reconciliation.
There was also a quest in this book, which I generally enjoy immensely, and it provided a great opportunity to develop the world further, taking us beyond Zalindov and Evalon. I loved the vivid descriptions of the other realms and how uniquely they were characterised. If anything though, the journey felt extremely rushed as, to be honest, did most of the book. We were constantly jumping from one place to the next, to the point that I didn’t feel I could really take in all that was happening and the different realms just sort of meshed together. The book was quite literally packed with action, which might be perfect for other readers but didn’t quite work for me.
If you read my reviews of The Prison Healer and The Gilded Cage you’ll already know I have a difficult relationship with the plot twists in this series, of which there are many. And this book was no exception. Some of the reveals I had guessed thanks to good foreshadowing, while others seemed to come out of nowhere, but even more so that in previous books they mostly seemed like a convenient way out of sticky situations.
Overall, this was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and an enjoyable read despite its issues.
This book contains mentions of addiction, self-loathing, suicidal thoughts, violence and abuse.