BOOK REVIEW: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli
“You think I should have saved myself, is that it? That I’m some gift to be given? Now forever spoiled?”
The boy said nothing, watching her with those fathom-deep eyes. Pretty as a picture. The girl drew a cigarillo from a silver case. Lit it on one of the candles. Breathing deep.
“I just wanted to know what it was like,” she finally said. “In case I died.”
She shrugged, exhaled grey.
“Now I know.”
This book was incredible. There is no other way to describe it. Jay Kristoff is a literary genius who should continue to spew book babies if they are anything like Nevernight, because the guy is onto something. This was the sort of book you binge-read in a night, hardly breathing, or blinking, or even thinking. It is encompassing — all consuming.
She was atop him, knees pinning him down. His hand on her wrist and her stiletto at his throat. An age passed, somewhere between struggling and hissing and biting and begging, and finally the blade sank home, sharp and so astonishingly hard, sinking through is neck and scraping his spine. He drew sucking breath, perhaps to speak (but what could he say?) and she could see it in his eyes–pain, pain, O, Daughters, it hurt. It was inside him–she was inside him–stabbing hard as he tried to cry out, her hand over his mouth to muffle the flood.
Nevernight is not for the faint of heart. It’s bloody, gory, nasty and sexy, and it takes your emotions by the throat and swings them round and round, until you aren’t sure whether you are disgusted or aroused, intrigued or confused. Kristoff has a way with words, that’s for sure, and he knows exactly how to turn those words into weapons.
Mia Covere is an assassin in training, a student to a lonesome man who teaches her the ways of death. Her only dream is to join the Red Church, prove herself, become a full trained assassin, and exact revenge on those who ruined her life. She was only ten years old when everything she knew and loved was ripped away from her viciously, and there is only one thing Mia knows: Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.
Mia doesn’t intend to forgive and forget. But Mia is not your average student or even assassin in training. There’s something about her shadow that isn’t quite right, and a shadow-cat that is not quite a cat that follows and counsels her. The shadows welcome her as one of them, and take away her fear. A powerful weapon in the Red Church, a school as unforgiving as hell itself.
Mia licked her lips, sucked down the salt air. Listening to the distant human of the gulls. The violence already thrumming through the Stone’s innards. Mister Kindly drinking in her fear and leaving her fierce and unafraid.
The setting of Nevernight has to be one of my favourite things about this book. It reminds me of ancient Rome, with its Empirical standing and latin and the three suns as sacred as God itself is to the Vatican. There was something almost familiar about the description of Godsgrave — the Ribs, especially, and the way the entire city seemed to be built like a skeleton.
The narrator of the novel is anonymous — witty, sharp and with enough knowledge to trump some of the tomes Mia has to read at the Red Church — and it made for a refreshing read: having someone telling you a story, rather than having to immerse yourself into one. It made a heavy read a lot lighter, and the use of footnotes (I love footnotes!) made it less info-dumpy and a lot easier to understand the history surrounding the novel and certain events that happened before Mia was born.
“If I was going to name my sword,” Mia said thoughtfully, “I’d call it ‘Princess’. Or perhaps ‘Fluffy’.”
Tric snorted with laughter. “Fluffy?”
“‘Byss yes,” the girl nodded. “Think of the terror you’d instil. Being bested by a foe wielding a sword called Souldrinker… that you could live with. Imagine the shame of having the piss smacked out of you by a sword called Fluffy.”
I started following Jay Kristoff on Twitter long before I’d read any of his books, and long before I’d heard of Nevernight‘s publication, and the reason I followed him was because his tweets were funny. He’s a great guy, someone who can have you laughing at something as simple as a tin of beans, and his humor really shone in Nevernight. I’d like to think Mia is Jay Kristoff as a young teenage girl, if he also happened to be a brutal, demon assassin in one of the scariest fantasy worlds ever created.
Although the plot is obvious from the very beginning, Nevernight holds enough twists to give readers a bad case of dizziness, and every once in a while, I had to put the book down just to ask out loud what on earth had happened. Jay Kristoff takes no prisoners, and people die (bloodily, gruesomely) and the narrator describes these deaths as mere occurrences, which I found both hilarious and disturbing. I loved how Kristoff managed to surprise me at practically every page, and kept me on my toes throughout the entire story.
Also, I’d love a Mister Kindly myself, a cat that is not a cat. I could do with some of Mister Kindly’s frequent bouts of sarcasm.
I am really excited to see where Kristoff takes this series, and cannot wait to read the second book in the Nevernight Chronicles! I have a feeling it’s going to be a crazy, unforgettable ride.
(Nevernight is Book 1 in the Nevernight Chronicles.)
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About the Author: 21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.