Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 429 pages
Publishing Information: August 9th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: ARC for Review
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?
After reading Nevernight, I am utterly convinced that everything that Jay Kristoff writes is just utter brilliance. I’m a big BIG fan of dark fantasy so when found out that Nevernight was about a school of assassins, I knew that I needed to have this book in my life. Nevernight reminded me of Harry Potter meets Red Rising meets Assassins Creed. If you are a fan of those three, I think you will definitely enjoy this book.
Mia Corvere’s life has revolved around revenge. When she was young, she saw her father executed for being a traitor. She was also separated from her mother and baby brother who were sent prison. After the death of the father, the darkness began to call to her and she learned that she has the ability to control shadows. Hunted by the Senate and by those who hate her father, Mia quickly learns that in order to survive, she must become a killer. Mia decides that to avenge her family and learn to use her shadow-speaking gift, she must go to the Red Church, a school for assassins.
Mia is a brilliant and fierce heroine who has had a tough life. As a child, she saw her father’s head chopped off and her mother + baby brother dragged off to one of the worst prisons in the country. She can speak with shadows but because of the darkness associated with that power, many view her as evil. Not surprisingly, she has spent most her life isolated and if it weren’t for her mentor, Mercurio, she would have likely died as a child. I loved seeing Mia’s development throughout the book — at the Red Church, she becomes an even more deadly assassin and her cleverness really shows. Mia’s whole life has been about violence and it’s interesting to see her in a school of assassins where her violence has to be catered to a very specific purpose. Also, in a way, the Red Church really brings out Mia’s goodness. Her friendships with her colleagues/fellow assassins, such as Tric, show just how much she cares about others. Even though the Red Church is teaching her how become more selfish and murderous, at times, she really can’t push her true nature away.
As an adult novel, Nevernight does not shy away from gore, violence, sexual scenes, and strong language. It definitely reminded me of the Red Rising series in terms of its “in your face” brutality/explicit sex scenes. I really loved that world that Jay Kristoff created — the Red Church reminded me of Hogwarts but with assassins instead of wizards/witches. The training at the Red Church is definitely much more dangerous than that at Hogwarts. The professors (shahiids [in Arabic this means witnesses]) are not afraid to kill their students through various methods including poison and sword duels.
While I ended up loving this book, I should note that I did have two problems with it when I first started reading. The first problem I had was with the footnotes. I actually started off reading an e-ARC version of this book, which meant that the footnotes were at the end of the chapter. It was pretty annoying to have to flip back and forth between the main text and the footnotes so I actually put the book down until I got a physical copy in my hands. Even with the physical copy though, I still found the footnotes kind of distracting. At times, the footnotes were quite long and threw a bunch of information at you about the world. I would have liked to see that information integrated throughout the natural story line rather than “info-dumped” via footnotes. In the end, I only read the shorter footnotes (the ones that were a sentence or two long) and skipped the longer ones
My second problem with that the book was quite slow at first. For the first 80 pages or so, Mia was just wandering around trying to find the school. After she finds the school though, things get absolutely intense and sh*t hits the fan. If you find the book slow at first, I definitely recommend just being patient and sticking through it because the rest of the book is worth it.
If you enjoy darker fantasy books such as An Ember in the Ashes, Red Rising, and The Bone Season, I recommend giving this one a try. It has a brilliantly complex main character, wonderful side characters, and is full of twists. I really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait (especially after that massive cliffhanger) to find out what happens next.