Author: Jay Kristoff
Series? Yes. 1 of 3.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.
I posted a list of ‘5 Reasons You Should Preorder Nevernight’ a couple of months back, so it should come as no surprise that I absolutely adored the book. Nevernight has just the right blend of nostalgia and fresh, original elements. It dares to go dark places, but is also never afraid to poke fun at itself and its genre, making it one of the best fantasy I’ve read this year.
The book starts off with a bang, seamlessly mixing sex and death in a memorable opening sequence. It’s a hint of things to come, as Nevernight is filled to the brim with both lust and love, violence and despair, and ceaseless heartstopping action. Within the book itself, Jay Kristoff also employs a myriad of different story telling techniques, from occasional changes in point of views and narration, to the use of those clever little footnotes. Like the story, the craft employed within this book is unpredictable and ever-changing. Despite employing all of these narrative techniques, the book never becomes confusing, and the narrative voice is usually a perfect fit for a the scene at hand.
Speaking of the footnotes, they’re so wildly entartaining and elevates the reading experience to another level – especially as it reminds me of Discworld, one of my favourite fantasy series. At times, the footnotes are used to reveal details in the architecture of the worldbuilding. Other times, it’s used to gently remind us that this dark fantasy tale is not like others of its ilk. Always, it is humorous and self-aware. Definitely one of my favourite part of the novel.
The plot itself follows Mia Corvere: vengeful orphan, assassin-in-training, and owner of a smart-mouthed ‘cat’ shaped from shadows. Mia surpasses beyond the ‘badass female’ archetype by having very relatable vulnerability and motivational drive. I love that she’s also a decent person at heart, and her relationships with several characters in the series are exemplary of this – particularly the bond she developed with Tric. Mia also develops meaningful friendship with female characters in this series, of both the supportive and destructive kind. A lot of traditional fantasy tends to fail even a basic Bechdel’s test, so it was so refreshing to see that aside from Mia, multiple other female characters were allowed to shine.
Personally, the world building was the most memorable part of the book. Jay Kristoff describes it “a collision between ancient Rome and merchant prince Venice”, where the Roman Republic still remain the dominant force centuries after it was meant to collapse. Except in this world, there’s also three suns almost eternally illuminating the earth. There are also cities built on bone, worshippers of the Lady of Blessed Murder, blood magic, and darkin- the shaper of shadows. There are also hints at a deeper, more complex mythology behind the world – told in snippet of fables and songs – which we will undoubtedly see more of in the sequel.
The Red Church school for assassin is another world unto itself, populated with a widely varied cast of fearsome and complex characters – adept from the craft of poison to the art of seduction. We spend a lot of time learning about the teachers and the students, along with watching the dangerous game of murder they’re all trying to win. It makes for a riveting book, where the stakes are ridiculously high and the death toll rivals those of a Game of Thrones episode. Nevernight is seriously addicting stuff.
I loved the descriptive, metaphor-rich writing in this novel – although I know some of my fellow readers had difficulties with it. Personally, I like lyrical, almost ornate writing, so I devoured Nevernight with a spoon. However, I have to warn you that although the book is action-packed, it’s definitely not a quick read due to the writing style. It’s definitely one to be savoured slowly – especially because the sequel is an entire year away.
In short, Nevernight is worth every cent. Go and get it, because it’s beautiful on the inside as well as out.
Melbourne Launch Recap
As Jay Kristoff is an Australian author (hurrah!), I also had the privilege of attending his Melbourne Launch for Nevernight on Friday 29th July, hosted by Dymocks 234 Collins St. Here are 5 awesome things I did during this night:
I) Took tons of photos of the incredible Nevernight cake, created by Mirabelle (@cakeandmadness), with the help of her girlfriend (@squishybelle). Look at that sword! Look at all that blood (strawberry flavoured icing!). It was almost too good too eat. I found out later that as part of the cake-making process, they also created 3D models of the sword and cake.
II) Finally got my finished copy of Nevernight, which includes nice extras like beautiful maps and inner flap design. The writing is significantly smaller compared to the ARC copy, making it a lot lighter. There’s no page breaks between the Chapters, but there’s a clear break between each section of the book (Nevernight is divided into 3 main parts). I was actually holding out to get the hardcover edition, but it was not out yet and I wanted to support Dymocks and Jay since they were giving us free cakes and booze.
III) I got to meet the fellow Melbourne bloggers and vloggers I’ve been chatting with in the past month! I began a group chat a while back because I didn’t want to be a sad loner at the launch party – and I had some fantastic company! We first met up at 8Bit to grab a bite before making our way down to Dymocks. I loved seeing Reg, Sarah, Cilla, Natasha, Sam, Dani, Casey, Lissa, and many others! Thanks for a wonderful night out ❤
IV) Got my copy of Nevernight signed and grabbed a photo with Jay – who was so wonderful and gracious. He took the time to chat to everyone who waited to get their books signed, even though there were a LOT of people present. Jay mentioned that it was one of the busiest book launch he has ever hosted so go Melbourne, and go Jay!
V) I got to eat the cake above, delicious white chocolate and strawberry flavoured. Books and cakes = best Friday night ever, basically. Dymocks Melbourne clearly knows what they’re doing so I am going to come right back when it’s time for the GEMINA launch.
Have you read Nevernight? What did you think? And have you been to any book launches?