Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Synopsis: In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school for 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, a sixteen-year-old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic–the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her within the the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.
Nevernight is probably one of the most buzzed about books of 2016, and while it has much to be commended for, in the end it fell a bit flat for me. For those of you who are planning on reading this please keep in mind that Nevernight is NOT a YA book. Because a large part of the cast are teens, I think there’s been some confusion in regards to what audience it’s intended for. Because of the many intense and extremely graphic scenes, both in terms of sex and violence, I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone under the age of eighteen. The beginning of the story was very slow. Jay Kristoff uses a ton of similes and metaphors and a lot of the time they’re either unecessary or outright confusing. Take for example:
Mia sighed. Took her temper by the earlobe and pulled it to heel.
The girl felt the words in her chest. In the deepest, darkest place where the hope children breathe and adults mourn, withered and fell away, floating like ashes in the wind.
While I enjoy descriptive phrasing, in this case I think it was too much of a good thing and wound up being a distraction. Also slowing things down for me were the footnotes which were at the end of almost every chapter. I am usually pro-footnotes in fiction because I think they can flesh out an author’s world-building without getting in the way of the plot. I loved the way Susanna Clarke used them in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. What was problematic for me was the formatting. Saving them for the end of each chapter instead of at the end of a page, added to my confusion much of the time. Some of the chapters are quite long, and I was reading this on my Kindle. By the time I reached the end to say, a 15 minute long chapter, I couldn’t remember what half the notes were referring to. I have to admit that after awhile I wound up skipping many of them. Another issue I had was with the unnamed narrator whose voice I found obnoxious especially in the beginning. He/she kept throwing in these snarky asides which I suppose were meant to be humorous, but instead annoyed the heck out of me. Thankfully this subsided when Mia arrived at the school for assassins. And, that is when the pace picked up and I really began enjoying the story. The two main protagonists are Mia and Tric, another acolyte who she met on her journey to the Red Church. Both have traumatic childhoods and are hell-bent on revenge. They’re strong, independent, and slow to trust anyone, let alone each other. Watching their relationship develop was one of my favorite parts of the book. The secondary characters are intriguing and in some instances leave you guessing as to who is friend and who is foe. Kristoff has done a wonderful job at giving a new disturbing twist to the ubiquitous boarding school setting found in many fantasy novels. The ending, while forshadowed, still managed to catch me by surprise. Overall, despite it’s flaws, I did wind up enjoying Nevernight and I’ll definitely be reading book 2 when it’s released. If you like really dark fantasy, I recommend giving this a try.
*Update* – I was just talking to Fiddler Blue– please check out her awesome review at http://fiddlerblue.wordpress.com and she informed me that the print copy has the footnotes at the bottom of each page. So, if you decide to read this I definitely recommend buying the hardcover instead of the ebook. I think you’ll get much more out of it.