Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Monday, July 25, 2016
Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: fantasy
Series: Nevernight #1
Pages: 429
Published: expected August 2016
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5

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?

Bloodthirsty, dark, and unrelentingly brutal, Nevernight is Jay Kristoff's newest fantasy offering and it is every bit as good as the steampunkish Lotus War series before it. Also like the Lotus War trilogy, this is a book that can bridge both YA and adult fantasy readerships, though the themes, action and characters feel more geared towards an adult audience. It's a blood-soaked revenge story and Mia Covere is a protagonist to remember.

This is a darkly imaginative book; death and destruction begin the book and set the unchanging tone from there. Kristoff has always leaned towards the grimdark side of the spectrum with his fantasy and he again skirts that edge here. There is a bit of humor (sardonic, sarcastic, cynical, dry)  and hope to be found for Mia and Co. That's not to say that Nevernight pulls its punches because the exact opposite is the truth; no character is safe from betrayal, pain, or death. The stakes are high and Kristoff shows that in multiple harsh ways.

The beginning of Mia's story is a bit rough and admittedly the main reason it's not getting a full-five star rating here. Normally this is an author more than adept at scene-jumping and crafting cross POVs, but the start of Nevernight is very confusing and off-putting for less pateint readers. I can see what the author is trying to do with how he opened the book and the point its trying got make re: sex and violence, but it's so jumbled that it loses any impact. 

Thankfully the muddled execution that launches the story fades out after those scenes. Kristoff's storytelling style has always been unique and engaging in manner and the unnamed narrator of Mia's life is another great example. The footnotes may not amuse every reader but I loved the added bits of history, lore, and worldbuilding. It's another layer to the story that Kristoff is so slowly unraveling; though this is an entire "plot" in one book, there's obviously a much larger game at play being revealed in bits and pieces. It's intriguing and creative.

 Also.. that sly mention of "Montoya's dual-hand forms." I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, KRISTOFF.

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