Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Destined to destroy empires, Mia Corvere 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 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 daemons at the heart of a murder cult.
The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.
I was so excited to start Nevernight. I’d read some really good reviews and had high hopes after the brilliance that was Illuminae. Let me just say, Amie Kaufman clearly reigns in Jay Kristoff. If you thought Illuminae was gory, then wait till you read Nevernight.
I really enjoyed this book. Truly and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great characters, intrigue, wit, gore, it had it all. One thing I especially loved was the world-building. I’ve seen in some reviews that people didn’t really like the footnotes, but I actually liked them! After studying English at uni and reading books with tons of footnotes and asterisks, I’m pretty used to them now, and they’re often full of interesting information. The footnotes here in Nevernight really added to the depth of the world Kristoff has created and they were often just funny anecdotes too. I didn’t feel like they detracted from the flow of the story at all.
I actually found a lot of comparisons with Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series in this book. I don’t mean comparisons in the sense of Nevernight stole ideas from Sabriel etc. or just regurgitated them, but there were definite similarities. A cult living in a mountain? Yep. A labyrinthine library that is home to some things much more unsavoury than just books? Yes. A smart-arse cat? Definitely. However, there are of course differences here too. Whilst the Clayr’s Glacier in Nix’s series is home to a benevolent clan of clairvoyant women, the Red Church is home to some very deadly assassins. Whilst the Red Church library has its dangers, it’s not quite as dangerous as some of the Free Magic entities lurking within the depths of the Clayr’s library. And whilst Mister Kindly from Nevernight is sarky and made of darkness, his allegiances are much clearer than those of the Old Kingdom’s Mogget. I actually enjoyed finding these comparisons. Like I said, they’re just similarities, not blatant plagiarism, but it definitely helped my enjoyment. So, if you like Nix’s series, you may like Nevernight.
Another thing I enjoyed here was the plot and the pacing. The story itself was, overall, original and a very fun read. I would often be reading and think “right, I’m gonna stop at the end of this chapter” and then some massive cliff-hanger would arise and I’d have to keep reading, desperate to know what happens next with all the twists and turns. Some people mentioned it lagged a little at the beginning, and I can see that, but because I enjoyed the world-building I didn’t mind, and it didn’t move slowly for very long. I’m not going to spoil too much about the world because I think it’ll be more fun to read about it yourself, but there was a definite Roman/Greek undertone to it that I loved.
So, why only 4.5/5? Well, as I mentioned in my September wrap-up, Mia annoyed me a little. I failed to fully connect with her and I’m not too sure why. I think perhaps it was because her confidence sometimes slipped over into the realm of cockiness. I did warm to her much more by the end – I think she definitely matured – but for a large portion of the book I found myself struggling to feel much for her, which was a shame. However, I did enjoy other characters, such as Tric, Mercurio, a few of the Shahiid’s and Mister Kindly. Tric certainly had his flaws (he was a sulker) and there was sometimes something a little sinister about Mister Kindly, but I did really like them.
Yet, being a Jay Kristoff book, I knew there was going to be a fair bit of death. Why oh why does Kristoff insist on killing off my favourite characters all the time?! I’m not going to mention who, of course, but don’t get too attached to anyone, I’m warning you now; Kristoff is the George R. R. Martin of the young adult world. Not that this book is young adult. It may feature teenage protagonists, but this book contains a lot of gore, swearing and sex. You won’t find this book in the YA section. However, I wouldn’t warn teenagers away from it. It’s definitely a 16+ book and, after all, Mia is only 16 and she engages in many of the aforementioned activities.
So, overall, I loved this book. Whilst my inability to fully connect with Mia meant the rating came down slightly, I still highly recommend it as an enjoyable and twisted fantasy. I’m excited to see where the story goes next.
Have you read Nevernight? What did you think? Or are you hoping to read it in the future? Let me know in the comments below!