Review: Nevernight

NevernightNevernight by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

This is my first Kristoff book ever so I would like to start this review with the writing style. Nevernight begins on a sex scene/murder scene in tandem – something that would render wonderfully on screen, which is pretty much how you could describe the whole book. It is lush with details, and the language is dripping with words and music. The pages are also filled with random footnotes – some providing backstories, some providing amusing anecdotes, some just for the sake of humor, and despite you having to pause the plot for a moment to read them, not once did I feel that they broke the flow of the story, by which I mean to say they were placed very strategically and not randomly as I previously said. The story is about Mia, who is an Acolyte of a church of Assassins, learning the craft so that she can one day have her revenge on the people who destroyed her family. At the start itself, we are made to know she is a killer, but she is not a psychopath, nor does she take pleasure in it. She doesn’t even truly believe the church, not until she learns the fact of her abilities.

The plot flows from her journey to the Church, her training there and her ascension to an Initiate – all of which is a long arduous trial. Meeting Tric on the way, the two of them become fast friends and join the Church, both with vengeance driving their kind hearts. She is the more cruel one of the two, but still in a place full of assassins, and in the face of her violent past, there is only perhaps a few moments where she is stone-cold. As a character, she is snarky (I loved the whole bit with that horse!), smart, cunning and I think she just toppled Celaena from the top of my list of favorite assassins. She is also quite open about her sexuality, despite a little chiding from her shadow-friend/cat, Mister Kindly; the latter constantly nags her to stay away from Tric. So, I guess this is the part where I should warn that while the book is technically YA (thematically, as well as age of protagonist), there are at least three explicit (tastefully hot) sexual scenes. But, you know, in a book that had a body count (committed by teenagers, mostly, mind you) and countless murders and two major massacres, sex seems pretty tame, ya know?

Onto world-building, I liked the whole dark-versus-light tropes, but in reverse. The dark and the light both have their ‘evilness’, and you are naturally with the Dark protagonist. But remember those footnotes? They also provide a glimpse into the world-building, and with her being Darkin, I am excited for how that will play out in future books (it promises to be a trilogy) and how she will exact her vengeance. For one path is clear – she does destroy the Republic (not a spoiler – it is literally the first page), and with the reveals and betrayals towards the climax, this series is looking very promising.

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