Book Review: Nevernight

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

by Jay Kristoff.

Girl’s family is killed. Girl narrowly escapes with her life. Girl ends up on the streets. Girl wants revenge, and is taken in by an old assassin and trained as his new protege in preparation for going to assassin school. Naturally. Then she has to find the school/temple of assassins, be admitted, learn all the things, and compete with her fellow trainees for a limited number of spots in the ranks of assassin proper. What could go wrong when you have a bunch of hormonal teenage assassins-in-training cooped up and pitted against one another?

All glibness at the setup aside, this was an interesting read. For starters, the world this takes place in has 3 suns, the result of which is that they only get true night once every few years. (Hence the title Nevernight because it’s never night, see?). This is important because the girl, Mia, has certain magical powers that thrive on darkness. Whether you want to take that literally or metaphorically, it still applies. I have a feeling this will have a bigger role in subsequent books.

The pace of the action throughout is good. The plot keeps the reader engaged without being all that predictable. I mean, of course, there are some of the usual teenage girl things, and boarding school tropes, but there are a nice number of surprises throughout as well, especially as it builds towards the end of this first book. It’s YA level, but doesn’t gloss over all of the things that training to be an assassin entails. In short: there is a lot of blood and death and ugliness, some of it in ways that might turn your stomach. I enjoyed Mia as a protagonist. She is cunning and good at the trade, but hasn’t lost her gooey human center. Her sidekick is an interesting (and amusing) twist. The tinge of the mystical that hangs over the whole school adds a nuance to the world and the story for a welcome bit of depth.

As for supporting characters, it’s a mixed bag. Some are complex and fully realized, some are more one-note and unoriginal. Though to be fair a lot of the latter get killed off, so maybe I shouldn’t hold that against the author.

This first book in the series ends in a good place. Some major things have wrapped up or been achieved, but there are still threads hanging loose to be picked up in the next book. Which I fully plan on reading when it comes out in September.

If you like darker fantasy full of intrigue, and aren’t too squeamish, give this a try.

I give it 4/5 stars.

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Nevernight

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Series Review: The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched Queen The Star-Touched Queen (#1) A Crown of Wishes (#2) By Roshani Chokshi.   Book 1 follows the story of Maya, who has been cursed since birth with a horoscope that predicts a marriage of death and destruction. Shunned by the entire kingdom, she lives only for her books and her little sister Gauri. Then, against all expectations, her father announces she will be wed- a political arrangement to quell unrest. One particular suitor catches her eye, and she finds herself queen of a land called Akaran, and wed to a man who gives her respect, power and […]

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Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Bear and the Nightingale #1) by Katherine Arden. Vasilisa, the youngest of 5 siblings, grows up in the Russian hinterlands with a special connection to the wild. She loves her nurse’s stories of the different spirits of house and forest, but most of all she loves tales of Morozko, the fearful king of winter. When her father remarries to a devout citywoman, who comes with a new priest, it triggers a change in Vasilisa’s comfortable existence. And, as she soon comes to realize, a change in the natural balance. As the new priest’s influence […]

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Recent Reads

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately (who, me?) and wanted to catch you up on some of the highlights. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed recently: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel follows the protagonist through similar life events: an uncaring aunt, abusive schoolmaster, refuge in a country house as a governess with a brooding master. There is one big difference, though – this Jane has escaped each horrid circumstance by killing her tormentor, leaving a trail of bodies behind her. Is she truly wicked, or a victim fighting back against cruelty? Will […]

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Book Review: The Bone Witch

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco. Tea finds out her magic isn’t like the other witches in her family in a decisive and unexpected way: she inadvertently raises her brother from the dead. This marks her as a bone witch, with power over death rather than one of the more common elements. She’s apprenticed to an older bone witch and moves to a training house in the city, to learn control over her powers and the duties of an asha (a powerful warrior witch that also functions something like a geisha). Her brother (her familiar) accompanies […]

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Book Review: Chasing Embers

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Book Review: Gilded Cage

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James. In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (Equals) rule the land, while ungifted commoners must serve 10 years as slaves. When in their life they serve those 10 years is up to them, but serve it they must. Not everyone is happy about this arrangement. The slavetowns are backbreaking and bleak, and it’s becoming more clear that being Skilled with magic is not the straight genetic shot everyone thought it was. Three young people find themselves in the midst, in different ways, of this political turmoil and magical hotbed. Luke, a teenage boy, […]

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