Nevernight by Jay Kristoff was a delightful surprise from the moment it arrived on my doorstep. Amazon had seen fit to gift me with a signed copy, so I was feeling pretty special as I embarked on this dark, twisted tale of Mia Corvere.
The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who 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 hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door 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. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.
Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?
The surprise and delight continued from the opening chapters when Kristoff used a unique storytelling technique with paralleling narratives that had the same actions but different outcomes right off the bat. As someone who admires the way people can put a variety of 26 letters together, I was blown away. Kristoff’s writing style and ability to mold a story into a compelling narrative is awe-inspiring.
The story of Mia is truly a dark tale. Don’t expect a happy ending or an assassin school that coddles its fledglings, but do expect justice, a whole lot of JUSTICE. At 428 pages, Kristoff creates a well-paced fatalistic journey where an orphaned girl seeks to become a famed assassin to avenge her murdered family. With her dark powers and the constant company of the “not-cat,” Mia is at once both relatable or entirely other as she fights for her dream. I loved the idea of the not-cat eating her fear. I loved that she was a total smartass. The dialogue in this novel is definitely meant for a older YA audience.
Nevernight is not for the faint of heart. There is death and danger and violence. There is no respite for anyone in this bloodthirsty novel. I enjoyed the competitions as the students fight to become blades at the service of the Lady of Blessed Murder. The relationships between them were complex — torn between making friends, identifying enemies and just trying to win one of the four coveted spots.
Most notable is Mia’s relationship with Tric. I wouldn’t say it was romantic by any means but there was a level of caring that was both intriguing and heartbreaking as the story progressed. Another favorite character was the librarian Aelius. He had one of my favorite quotes from the novel:
“Listen, girl,” Aelius sniffed. “The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of words. A girl with a story to tell.” (p. 243)
As a reader, this quote rings true, but encased in this story, I could appreciate the foreshadowing and prophetic nature of his comment.
I feel as if my words fail me. I cannot do this book justice with this review. Nevernight was a wonderfully terrible tale, and as the first book in a trilogy, I can’t wait to see what dark, horrific things Kristoff comes up with next.
STARS: 5 out of 5