Thank you, my lovely book community, for pointing me towards the Nevernight Chronicles by the amazing Jay Kristoff. It is, by far, the BEST fantasy recommendation I have ever received. I was only half-way through Nevernight when I knew without a question that I would be buying Godsgrave and Darkdawn in short order. And it was not much longer after that I was getting quotes from the books tattooed on my arm. Talk about immediate impact. Wowza!
The whole series is imaginative, intense, and utterly gripping. Kristoff’s writing is witty, engaged, and hilariously self-deprecating as the series progresses. If you crave fantasy that is free from the eight-instalment world building slog and is most definitely written for an audience other than teens, then The Nevernight Chronicle is like winning the freaking lottery. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.
Series Title: The Nevernight Chronicle
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Books: Nevernight (2016), Godsgrave (2017), Darkdawn (2019)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Themes: Revenge, Murder, Assassins, Family, Love, Loyalty
My Rating: 5+/ 5
Taken from the publisher’s website:
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, 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 with 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.
Pardon me while I try to articulate my feelings to towards as series that has legitimately left me speechless and sobbing on so many occasions.
OH. MY. GODS.
So much love.
The whole series is high-impact, meticulously wrought, and utterly irreverent. And it has footnotes. No, seriously, it has lots of them. At first I was all WTF am I doing reading something loaded with footnotes that isn’t an academic monograph, couldn’t Mr. Kristoff just include these little tidbits into the story like any normal human being? But then I came to realize that these asides were 1) hilarious and often the highlight of the page and 2) the most ingenious method I have ever seen for bridging the narrator’s voice between the prologue and epilogue. I ended up loving them, and often found myself skipping ahead to see what delights these sarcastic, self-reflexive, and self-deprecating asides had to offer.
Footnotes aside, the world Mr. Kristoff creates is a beautiful and terrifying blend of realistic details and exceptionally imagined monsters and magic. Each and every element has meaning, purpose, and and comes together into the best damned finale that us mere mortals could ever image. The series takes the reader on a journey of growth, not just as Mia progresses through the Red Church, but also as a person. We see meaningful change in every sustained character that is in line with the events and circumstances taking place. The result is a plot-driven (sex enhanced) extravaganza with well-rounded characters that are dangerously easy to get attached to. I say dangerous because neither working as an assassin or partaking in a supernatural war has a particularly long life span attached. So guard your hearts my friends… and keep the tissues nearby.
Take Mia for example, despite the fact that she is a chain smoking, ever-cussing, master murderess she is one of the most interesting and likeable heroines I have come across in a good long time. She is bitter, vengeful, and terribly flawed but she is also human, real, and plagued by a tenderness that gets her into more trouble than it’s worth. I loved her sass, her unwavering determination, and the extreme loyalty that she shows towards those she’s come to love. And then there’s the absolutely ace set of supporting characters including Tric, Ash, Mercurio, and so many more. Each and every one them is clearly defined with their own story, quirks and personalities. And we can’t forget Aelius, our delightfully dead librarian, who has given me new aspirations in my own career – to live forever, tied by dark magic to the lives of my books and herder ravenous book worms.
Sec and blood and swearing aside though, this series tackles some pretty big issues like hypocrisy, the abuse of power, the lasting impact of colonial empires, slavery, gender fluidity, and the value/ power of libraries and librarians. That last one may not seem like much, but in a world where access to knowledge and information is becoming increasingly controlled, it was refreshing to see a librarian represented as a centre of rebellion and resistance rather than as nothing more than an aged, bespectacled, keeper of books. Mr. Kristoff’s style is such that you can read it face value for an exhilarating experience, or take your time and unpack some seriously deep layers of meaning. They’re the kind of books that you can read over and over again and find something new in them each and every time.
I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in badass heroines to read this series. You won’t regret following Mia on journey from the Godsgrave to the Silent Mountain, and from the fighting pits to Old Ashkahi and back again. Mr. Kristoff’s quirky and irreverent style will draw you in, and the characters will you trapped until the very end (and maybe even for a while after).
Ace tip: Read all three back to back… and then plan for some recovery time afterwards.
Nevernight, Godsgrave, and Darkdawn are my tops reads of 2019, and if you’re up for it, they can be yours too!
I purchased these books as a result of blogger reviews and recommendations. All opinions are my own.