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Book Review – Nevernight

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

What’s it about?

In a world where the suns almost never set, a woman gains entry to a school of infamous assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers that destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she wanders a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and its thugs. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the hearth of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined. Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic, the Red Church. Deadly trials await her within the Church’s halls: blades and poisons, treachery and death. If she survives to initiation, she’ll be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and be one step closer to the only thing she desires. Revenge.

And here’s the review:

Nevernight isn’t your usual fare, both in terms of the story and writing style, and I’ll start by saying it will definitely polarise readers. Kristoff puts in a lot of description, and while you can be in no doubt of the world this story inhabits, it can be overwhelming at times. That said, his world building is excellent, and there’s a rich culture and history to immerse yourself in. The author also employs the use of frequent footnotes, similar in style to Terry Pratchett. You can ignore them (I didn’t), especially if you find the contrasting funny tone difficult, but I personally enjoyed them.

The book contains a multitude of characters, dipping in and out of the narrative, but always adding to the world Kristoff has built. My favourite is Mr Kindly, Mia’s cat/shadow demon thingy, who is surprisingly likeable, despite his apparent reason for existence. Mia, the narrator, is complex, and although her motivations and goals don’t really change (revenge and murder, O yes) she still cares for others and demonstrates a damn good sense of humour at times. Describing her as an antihero probably works best, and she’ll do and say things you’ll never see coming. This is especially true at the end, however more than a few folks would say it was out of character, rather than a twist.

This book has a good chunk of everything: gore, action, monsters, adventure, magic, romance, sex. I’ve seen it described as YA, but it’s definitely not (in my opinion). Jay Kristoff himself has stated that the age of the MC, sixteen, doesn’t define the genre, and I’m inclined to agree. There’s a lot to admire in this novel, and Kristoff really does demonstrate a mastery of language and in-depth storytelling, however it falls into a few tropes, and the plot loses momentum in places. Overall, I’d say it was a good read and I’ll more than likely read the rest of the trilogy, albeit not right away. I need something a bit more light-hearted in the meantime.

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