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Nevernight was the first audiobook I listened to, and I enjoyed it a lot! The only problem is that now I also want to buy the physical copy. Ah well. The story was truly imaginative, and I loved the dark vibe. It does seem to have more violence than your typical Coming-of-age Fantasy story, but that’s just how I like it. In any case, while the main protagonist is a teenager, the story is more fitted to an NA audience than YA, if you wanna classify it.
The narrator of the story was Holter Graham, and I liked how he read the story, as his voice was pleasant to listen to. He used pauses where necessary, quicker narration when things got tense, and the articulation was clear. Jay Kristoff is a phenomenal writer, in my opinion, and I’m looking forward to reading/listening to his other books. His bio does say he doesn’t believe in happy endings, so I consider that to be a fair warning…
Genre: Dark Action-Epic Fantasy, NA | Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
The story is about Mia Corvere, set in a land where the three suns almost never set. Mia is the daughter of an executed traitor and is barely able to escape the repercussions with her life. But she does so with the help of a friend, a creature made of shadows, drawn to her by the gift she possesses.
Trained to be an assassin and hungry for revenge for the people responsible for her father’s death and mother’s imprisonment, she now journeys to the Red Church to become an apprentice. But, as may be expected, getting initiated as a Blade of the Lady of Blessed Murder, is not just about following and passing her classes. When your classmates are all killers, and the challenges presented in each class can get you killed, it’s about survival.
“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”
If you’ve read more of my reviews, you know I’m a sucker for a story that’s dark and violent. I don’t know if that means there’s something wrong with me, but they’re just more interesting to me than the typical goody-two-shoes hero stories. I did not see the ending coming. Like, at all. When I was reading, I was hoping for a different decision by the end-point, but the conclusion I got was so much better than the ending I envisioned.
Another noteworthy point is that the story has two timelines. One is present-day 16-year-old Mia, and the other is when she’s 10. That’s where you find out how she became who she is and what happened to her family. This is mostly at the beginning though, around the middle and end, it’s pretty much all chronological.
We follow Mia Corvere, and she is, without a doubt, my new hero. She’s full of sassy comebacks and is smart and witty. You do not want to mess with her: you won’t live long enough to regret it. Her heart is full of revenge against those who have wronged her and her familia, and she has to decide how far she’s willing to go to get that revenge. Always by her side is Mr. Kindly, the Shadowcat who feeds on her fear. As a result, she’s often perhaps a bit too brave. Fear can sometimes be useful in stopping us from doing something stupid. Mr. Kindly is quite a wise cat though, always full of helpful advice, and looks over Mia. I love their dynamic and the banter they have.
“I appear to have misplaced the fucks I give for what you think.”
Speaking of banter, there’s also a good amount of back-and-forth between Mia and Tric, another acolyte assassin-to-be. Despite being in a Church full of assassins, Tric cares for Mia and looks out for her, whether she needs it or not. Then there’s Ashlinn, who quickly becomes fast friends with Mia. There are a lot more characters in Nevernight that are interesting of their own accord, all with their own desires, motivations, strengths, and flaws.
Nevernight is set in the Itreyan republic, and most of it takes place in either Godsgrave, which is the biggest city and made out of bones, and in the Red Church. In this world, there are three suns, and in their religion, Aa is the God of Light. These three suns rarely set together, so it’s rarely true dark. Hence, nevernight.
“The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.”
On the opposite of Aa, there’s Niah, who is the sister-wife of Aa, who rules the night. She’s known as the Mother of Night, Black Mother, or the one and only Goddess of Blessed Murder. Mia’s power, which is to control the shadows around her, seems tied to Niah, but there’s little known about it, let alone written down.
In any case, the world is imaginative and has everything you would expect: two opposing religions, leading to persecution from the believers of Aa of the believers of Niah, a large city with varying social classes, a republic ruling with a rising dictator, and a strange, dark power. And the assassin’s, of course. Also, check out the cool maps here!
I loved the writing-style in Nevernight. It might not be for everyone, though. So, the first chapter is very poetic, and I immediately fell in love with it. Naturally, this is a style that’s tough to maintain throughout the novel, and would probably get tedious. So, it’s not written in the same way in the following chapters. Still, the prose often has a literary quality to it. That’s when I realized most fully the upside to listening to Nevernight as an audiobook: you hear all the beautiful alliterations that you might miss otherwise. Jay Kristoff also loves using footnotes, and there are a lot of them. I never found them annoying, though, cause they fit with the narrator that was chosen to tell the story. And, they actually added some interesting and often useful information and background.
I would highly recommend Nevernight to anyone who loves reading a story with a dark protagonist, in a sort-of YA/NA cross-over vibe. It’s still the quite classic combo of coming-of-age and action, but it has more violence, and some pretty steamy sex-scenes to have it be YA. So, yes, there’s also a romance subplot to fill the romance need in your heart. When it comes down to it, it’s a story about a girl training hard to become the best and most deadly assassin of them all, but it also begs the question as to how far she’d go to reach that goal. How far do you go for revenge? What parts of yourself do you give up? Will it be worth it? Those are all things Mia struggles with. Even cold-blooded killers have a bit of a heart left in them, you know.
Have you read Nevernight? Or other books by Jay Kristoff? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!