Book Review: Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff


dd-coverThe Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?



I have to say, reading this book and even writing this review feels a little bittersweet for me–it’s always hard to close a door on a favorite series. There was a lot of fun stuff in this book, some things I’m annoyed with but those are personal preferences I think, haha. Overall, a great ending even if I would have preferred certain things to go other ways. 😀

In this last installment we focus on Mia and her brother, whom she’s basically kidnapped, and her not always merry band of fighters, assassins and other miscellany working on a traditional journey/quest. Only, of course nothing goes exactly as planned. The gods themselves seem to have a beef with Mia and she’s finding resistance with every step forward. I liked the overall plot of this one, even if it meandered a little bit too much for me at some points and left itself open to some pacing issues, especially near the first half of the book. Some of this had to do with Mia trying to steer her way through relationships between her former and current lovers. We also get to know some of the side characters, and I’m not sure why we invested the time with most of them, quite frankly. I mean, they’re fun characters, all of them, even the bad guys (let’s face it–they’re all bad guys, except maybe my precious, precious Tric). I felt the story stalled a few times, but once things got going, they really got going. Some of the action sequences in this are super fun and over the top as per usual, which is just my type of action. I love when the imagery of these sequences is so clearly painted in my mind that I feel like I’m watching a movie instead of reading.

There’s a lot more to do with the mythos of the world in this final book. We get to know a lot more about the gods, and the creation of the world, why there are three suns and why night only comes every so often. This was all pretty interesting. Some of this was probably brought up a bit in earlier books but I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t always pay attention to those details that aren’t immediately relevant to the story. Yes, I’m a terrible reader, whoops. But here, all of the stuff with the gods is given a lot more weight, as they seem to become active participants in the story and not just some vague idea out in the ether. This mythos also ties into Mia’s personal journey in interesting ways. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that, if I’m being honest. I feel like this story was doing too much at times, trying to make this story bigger than it needed to be. Up until now it was a very personal revenge story, and that’s how things mostly go in this one until all this new information is dropped. It’s not exactly that I felt bamboozled or cheated as a reader, but it’s more along those lines than I’m comfortable with.

So, about that ending, well…I have some non-spoilery thoughts. While I appreciated it (I did, really, there was clearly work that led up to it), I wasn’t fully on board with the way things settled out in the end. I don’t know how else I would have ended it, except maybe rooted things in reality a little more. I’m also not entirely clear on if Mia is a real person who lived in this world or just a part of the larger mythos. From the beginning it’s a given that we’re reading a book that is a book within the world. It was written by someone. Does that mean the events are actually true? Well, for the first time I’m questioning everything and I think you could make an argument for either way, although I do still lean towards ‘real’. But the fact that it’s all a story…well, who knows?

I had a really difficult time writing this review and thinking about the book and how to rate it. On the one hand there was some great things happening here, some fantastic action, lots of world-building, some amazing meta-humor (oh, the meta parts are THE BEST and had me cracking up). It’s another entertaining book for sure, even if the pacing is off in places. On the other hand, did it leave me satisfied in the end? I don’t know. I don’t think so. There are some things that I just don’t know why they were included and thought ‘was Kristoff just trolling his readers?’ and also there’s the one and only character who I never liked who seems to have everything turn out for them in the end which, I’ll admit, I’m a little bitter about. Was it a good end? Maybe. Was it one that worked for me? Meh. I think I’ll have to give my first ever quarter star for this one because I’m just that torn. 3.75/5 stars.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I’m really curious about everyone else’s thoughts on this one, so far I’ve only read one review but that’s also probably because I’m still behind in blog hopping a bit. Hope you can get to it soon!

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum says:

    Yeah, I was of two minds about this one as well. On the one hand, I thought it was a great ending, and I loved the themes and can’t think of a better way to wrap up the trilogy. But on the other hand, it just wasn’t as engaging as the first two books. It lacked the “fun factor” for me.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      It’s definitely good, but for some reason left me a little unsatisfied and even after mulling it over I can’t *quite* put my finger on why…. But maybe you’ll have better results! Hope you love it. 🙂

  2. Kal @ Reader Voracious says:

    Great review, I recently finished Darkdawn finally and am still trying to figure out how I feel about it. I agree with you on the ending and not knowing if Mia is meant to be real or not… for a book with such detail to worldbuilding, I am not too happy with having some questions lol

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yes exactly. I’m *still* not sure how I feel about it! Some parts were fun and bombastic, what I expect, but it was also too…internalized at some points? Yeah, I still don’t know LOL

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