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 feel like this was the book of 2017. Everywhere I looked it was like someone was talking about this book and I couldn’t go a day without seeing the cover so clearly there was something special about this book and of course, I had to find out. I’m not sure what I expected going into this book but even if I did expect something I don’t think I could’ve ever been properly prepared. This book was something else, but a good something else. Wow. I’m all for dark books but I think this might be one of the darkest books I’ve ever read, even right down to the humour of it. And for a world that never really experiences darkness it’s beautifully ironic how dark this story actually is. I love me some good irony. While I really enjoyed the story and the characters along with it, I can’t say I truly loved every single thing in this book and there were a few bumps along the way. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, or else I wouldn’t be giving it 3.5 stars, but the question remains: is this another case of being overhyped? I’m not sure yet. Let’s get into the specifics and maybe we’ll find our answer to this question.
Just to be safe, I’m going to put a slight SPOILER ALERT in effect because there are certain things about the plot I need to reveal to review this the way I need to. Be careful.
- The Red Church might have been the best thing about this book. It honestly felt like it was Hogwarts but for assassins and murder. Instead of learning about using charms and the defence against dark arts, there was learning the art of pickpocketing and how to brutally murder someone with poisons. The Revered Mother had the same vibe and role for Mia and the rest of the Church that Dumbledore did for Harry and Hogwarts but it wasn’t as if I was constantly making comparisons between the two or that it was a blatant ripoff because there is no way that Mia is like Harry Potter. It’s just that the idea of an entire school for assassins is so inventive and interesting, as well as secretive, that it made me feel like it was Kristoff’s version of Hogwarts. A bloody, dark, murderous Hogwarts. To me, this was the meat of the book and it’s where all of my interest really lied. It’s also where I really started getting into the story because up until the Red Church I wasn’t all that interested (I’ll get to that later). But seeing the various elements to becoming a Blade and meeting all the Shahiids, which were akin to the Hogwarts professors, was great. You had the brutal and villain-type professor in Solis, the goofy and kindhearted-type in Mouser, the stoic yet purposeful-type in Spiderkiller, and the utterly beautiful and well intentioned-type in Aalea. I loved that all the Shahiids had such contrasting personalities and teaching techniques from one another but come together to form an art that’s so feared. Just like how all the different classes in Hogwarts help to make a well rounded wizard, the classes in the Red Church come together to make a well rounded assassin and I loved how well they all seemed to compliment each other.
- I liked Mia right off the bat. She’s not your typical protagonist and she seemed more like an anti-hero, but one that you really wanted to root for which is weird because you’re rooting for her to murder like, a lot of people. But after learning her story you want to see all these people dead too. I loved that she was unbelievably ruthless and had such a rough personality; she never failed to speak her mind and never censored herself which I thought was pretty refreshing for a female character. She might be this rough and tough anti-hero that couldn’t care less what you think of her but underneath it all, she still has a heart. In a world that’s so black and white I think it’s good that Mia is seeing it through a morally grey lens, which you see more in the third part of this book and closer to the final trial of the Red Church. As harsh and brazen as Mia is, I think it would’ve been too much to handle if she didn’t have a heart, whether she’d like to admit it or not. She knows that there’s no room for emotions in the life of an assassin or in her goal of avenging her family but I think it’s what will help her along the way. Her love for her family, her friends at the Red Church, and her feelings for Tric are what will shape her into the assassin she dreams of being, in my opinion. And in the end it’s Mia’s moral greyness that not only saves her life but helps her save the lives of the Red Church. I don’t think any other character would’ve been the right protagonist for this story and the darkness that Mia emits, the anti-hero embodiment that she displays, is what makes her perfect.
- I really enjoyed the mixing and balance of flashbacks to Mia’s past and the current story at hand throughout the book. When I started the first chapter and I saw the ping pong of present and past my immediate reaction was “oh no, not again.” I had just finished Jellicoe Road when I got to this book and if you saw my review of that book you’ll know that the jumping between the past and present was one of the things I disliked most about that book. Fortunately, this back and forth was nothing like Jellicoe Road. There’s the fact that the writing remained in the same narrative for both so the confusion was limited, if not nonexistent. But I liked that each glimpse into Mia’s past seemed to compliment the situation she was currently in and how seeing what happened to her more or less served as explanation or reasoning for why she was doing what she was doing. The flashbacks were never overbearing and I never had the feeling that I wanted to be back in the present story rather than the past. I don’t think the book would’ve worked without these flashbacks and that’s why I believe it was well balanced and complimented.
- The plot twist of betrayal in this book was insane to say the least. I’m not going to reveal what that was, even though I have the spoiler alert, because this is something you can only experience on your own. I’ll just say that I never saw it coming and it was beyond clever.
- Those footnotes. The goddamn footnotes. I feel like just from all my university classes I trained my brain not to care about footnotes because more often than not they were filled with information I didn’t care about. That was the same here. Sure, there were a couple that were hilarious and was like a slight commentary on the situation but as a whole they did nothing for me. They were a waste of space, if I’m being honest. And if the information wasn’t important enough to put in the story then it’s not really important enough for me to read it in the footnotes, especially those that went on for half a page. I appreciate and admire that Kristoff took the time to do these footnotes and that it shows how well thought out his world is but I didn’t see them as necessary. In fact, I felt like there were times where it took away from the book in general and found them to be rather distracting. Like, we’d be in the middle of a giant fight scene and all of a sudden we’d see an annotation and force ourselves to read the footnote for some partially relevant context. I don’t have the kind of attention span for long and detailed footnotes like this. They were more prominent in the first chunk of the book and I think that’s why it took me so long to really get into it, amongst other things. It had me putting down this book a lot, that’s for sure. Maybe if there were less footnotes, or none at all, I would’ve enjoyed this book a lot more but that’s just me.
- The writing was really done well, I’m not going to argue that because I loved most of Kristoff’s writing style, but sometimes the world building lost me, particularly in the beginning of the book. Mia’s entire journey to the Red Church wasn’t that interesting to me and it lost me a few times here and there, especially when she and Tric were travelling in the desert. It might’ve been just me and the fact that I was reading this book in weird intervals, but I didn’t grasp what the story was about in this first part. I can see what the point of the sand kraken was later in the book but at first reading I didn’t get it. This is why I said that I felt like this book really started and got interesting once Mia got to the Red Church. The journey to the Red Church was important, sure, but it dragged on too much for my liking.
- The death at the end was so disappointing. That’s all I felt when it happened: pure disappointment. It was also a super cliched death where Mia was on the brink of getting answers to what she is and how she came to be and then BAM! Murder. I didn’t like it, it wasn’t necessary, and I think it would’ve been better for the story if this person stayed alive.
- So, uh, the way a man writes sex scenes are…..interesting, to say the least. I didn’t know there was so much lunging involved. Maybe we should just let female romance authors stick to this little bit, yeah?
THE BOTTOM LINE
- In the question of this being an overhyped book, my answer is no. There are so many things about this book and this story that make it beyond worth it and if you like darkness and murderous plot lines then you’ll enjoy this book a lot. This book might have its downsides but they’re not so overbearing that you lose complete interest. I’m definitely picking up the next book in this series. I’m not sure where Mia’s story is going next but I can’t wait to find out.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicles #1)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Pages: 429 (Paperback)
Until next time,