I picked this up while looking for a steampunk book, a genre that I’m trying to get more into recently. I bought a steampunk novel, got a chapter in, and I hated it. Upon returning it, I picked up Nevernight.
“Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.
Destined to destroy empires, the child raised in shadows made a promise on the day she lost everything: to avenge herself on those that shattered her world.
But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, and Mia must become a weapon without equal. Before she seeks vengeance, she must seek training among the infamous assassins of the Red Church of Itreya.
Inside the Church’s halls, Mia must prove herself against the deadliest of opponents and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.
The Church is no ordinary school. But Mia is no ordinary student.
The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.”
We see Mia Corvere’s life from ten years old to sixteen, seeing the contrast between her life as a noble and her working hard to join a deadly cult of assassins. There are flashbacks in the first few chapters, easily distinguishable as the past is written in italics. It was useful and more interesting than if it was written in chronological order, and set the scene for a very well-developed character.
The prose was great; rich and sophisticated without going too much into detail. Quite often, especially in the first half of the book, there were a lot of footnotes explaining in detail certain buildings, bridges, weapons, etc. I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not. Having it as a footnote meant it didn’t disturb the action too much and made the world deeper. However, I felt like I had to look at them to read the full thing, and some notes, such as a tavern mentioned in passing, weren’t so interesting to me and interrupted the action in some parts. It was a bold move, though, because as far as I’m aware this isn’t done very often in books, and for that I respect it.
I felt the book got much more interesting in the second half. There were many twists, suspicious and enthralling characters, and exciting action in every scene where that I was hooked! An invisible killer, merciless teachers, the sense of not being able to trust anyone, danger lurking around every corner… Kristoff did an excellent job of keeping me constantly on edge, not knowing who was going to die or get hurt next.
One thing I wasn’t keen on was the sex scenes. Mia is sixteen years old, referred to by various characters as “child” and “little girl,” yet love scenes involving her were way too detailed. I felt borderline uncomfortable imagining a sixteen-year-old doing those things. This is probably personal preference, though; I don’t have much patience for sex scenes at the best of times. And this book was the best of times, in terms of reading material.
I loved how things mentioned at the beginning became relevant again in the end. Things you’d forgotten about suddenly became important, without seeming too convenient to be plausible. I couldn’t wait to get on my usual train to and from work so I could get lost in Mia’s trials at the church, her complicated relationship with Tric, the hackle-raising twists that made me gasp and giggle aloud.
Speaking of giggling, there were some great quotes in this story. I’ll share a few with you.
“A traitor’s just a patriot on the wrong side of winning.”
“Yes, cats speak… if you own more than one and can’t see them at this particular moment, chances are they’re off in a corner somewhere lamenting the fact that their owner seems to spend all their time reading silly books rather than paying them the attention they so richly deserve.”
“Too many books. Too few centuries.”
“‘Apologies,’ Mia frowned, searching the floor as if looking for something. ‘I appear to have misplaced the f***s I give for what you think…’”
“It’s best to be polite when dealing with lunatics.”
Nevernight is easily one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a while. It has all the ingredients for an awesome tale: a dangerous and vivid world, a solid, likeable main character, and a ton of twists and turns that keep you constantly on your toes. If I had a dollar for the amount of times I gasped or even jiggled my knees in shock and enjoyment at this book on the train, I’d be able to buy a ticket to Australia to shake the writer, Jay Kristoff’s, hand.
4.5 stars for Nevernight!