Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is the first in his fantasy series The Nevernight Chronicle.

From Goodreads:

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?

I. Loved. This. Book. The setting is fantastic, a sort of weird mesh between the Roman Republic and Merchant Venice that feels familiar and yet just so much off kilter that it becomes something new. Three suns create a world where true night only falls once every two years? Yes, this is interesting, sign me up.

At its heart, this is a classic tale of vengeance. Mia is on a mission to see that those responsible for her family’s deaths are killed in turn. She’s a young girl out for blood and little will stand in her way. I love her determination even if her stubbornness does sometimes get the better of her. We’re mostly seeing everything from Mia’s viewpoint, and I really came to love her character, but there are some other great characters here too, such as Tric. I loved Tric’s backstory! Once they got to the ‘assassin school’ together, things really started to move along. I liked all of the assassin training and the interactions between the various students and teachers. It’s like any typical fantasy magic school except everyone is out for murder and they’re learning how to kill each other. Fun times!

I do think, however, that this is the type of book where you will either love it or hate it simply because of the way that it’s written. The prose takes some getting used to and perhaps it’s best enjoyed in audio (Holter Graham does such a great job bringing this book to life–I really can not express enough how much I loved listening to him read this book). Personally, I loved the prose. It wasn’t pretty, and was felt quite messy and overpowering at times, but it was consistent in that style and added its own flavor to the story.

I love the way the narrator of the story has these little asides about various things in the world, tidbits and facts, and tells these directly to the reader. These mini-stories are often quite humorous and it’s an interesting way to show off more of the world through exposition without making it boring or dragging the story by having characters discuss these things instead. This kept the characters focused on the main story while he snuck in some cool world-building and I have to say–it really worked for me.

In short, Nevernight is bloody, full of cursing, and has a ten minute long graphic sex scene at one point that made me, reader of many a romance and erotica, blush. 5/5 stars.

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