BOOK REVIEW: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)
by Jay Kristoff
Publication date: 25 July 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Goodreads: Destined to destroy empires Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.
Six years later, the child raised in the shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on 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 demons at the heart of a murder cult.
The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows loves her. And they drink her fear.
Nevernight is a phenomenal read unlike anything I’ve recently read. I knew from the moment I heard about Nevernight that I wanted to read it. The hype building up to the book release date only heightened my excitement and it definitely did not disappoint!
Jay Kristoff throws you into a dark fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome and Venice. The world building is brilliant and you learn everything you need to without being overloaded with information. But Kristoff goes one step further to include footnotes that provide even more information. I’ve seen some readers say that the footnotes were distracting or jarring but I loved them. I really enjoyed how the footnotes gave you information that, while not necessarily important to the story, gave you some back story to the history and culture of Itreya. The footnotes let you gain a deeper understanding of this fantasy world. The footnotes were also used as a way for the narrator to speak to the reader. There was a line that genuinely made me giggle and the footnote of that line was “O, stop giggling and grow up”. HOW DID HE KNOW?! Actually, I know the answer to that:
So basically, what I’ve learnt from reading Nevernight is that Jay Kristoff is an all-knowing god.
Initially I was unsure of the writing and it took awhile for me to get used to the language but once I did I was completely drawn in. The story is narrated from a third person perspective. We never find out just who the narrator is but they have a very distinctive voice and was written in a way that I’ve never seen before. Like I mentioned before, the narrator communicates with the reader through the footnotes and is even a comedic voice at times.
I especially loved how detailed and descriptive Kristoff’s writing was. He did not hold back on the detailing and imagery, even in the more gory and gruesome scenes. Kristoff writes in a way that makes it impossible for you not to clearly picture what you’re reading. The details draw you in and keep you there—it’s near impossible to put the book down.
Mia is a new favourite character. She will do whatever it takes to avenge her family but she also has a more sensitive side. Even though she’s training to be a ruthless assassin, she still keeps a sense of morality. Not once does she waver in what she originally set out to do. I found that, unlike a lot of YA novels with a teenage protagonist, Mia’s characterisation and voice felt realistic, her decisions and thought process were logical. She felt like a teenage girl, a murderous teenage girl, but still a teenage girl nonetheless. I also got major Arya Stark vibes from her and I honestly have no complaints about that because Arya is one of my favourite A Song of Ice and Fire characters.
I’m not going to go into detail about any of the other characters, who are all wonderful and as dark as their world, otherwise we’d be here all day but a quick honourable mention to Mister Kindly, a shadow creature and Mia’s companion. He was a favourite and I loved his relationship with Mia and their banter made me laugh a few times.
Nevernight isn’t a romantic novel—it’s a fantasy novel with romantic elements. Rather than a typical romantic relationship, the romance is based on attraction, friendship and trust. Mia seeks out a no strings attached sexual relationship with Tric, a boy she meets on the way to the Red Church. The relationship is a slow burn and allows them to be more than just fellow acolytes of the Red Church. The sex scenes were well written and descriptive and gave Mia a chance to really express herself. A big thumbs up to Kristoff for the sex positivity of Nevernight. It’s time we stopped shaming girls, especially teenage girls, for wanting sex and embracing their sexuality.
The book is considered YA but Nevernight is definitely not a YA novel. Yes the protagonist is 16 so it technically is YA but the themes discussed make it feel more like a NA novel to me. There’s graphic violence, as to be expected (#stabstabstab), but there’s also the somewhat graphic sex scenes between Mia and Tric.
I loved every moment of Nevernight and I absolutely cannot wait to get more. Buy it. Read it. Love it. Cherish it. But most importantly:
Never flinch. Never fear. And never, ever forget.