Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: Nevernight Chronicle #1
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 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 love her. And they drink her fear.
Source: Review copy from Harper Voyager via Amazon Vine
Set in an incredibly imaginative and detailed world, this new fantasy series falls firmly in the epic category. We have a dispossessed child thrown out into a cruel world, vowing revenge and turning herself into an assassin in order to get it. The difference with this over so many others of a similar nature is partly the world itself, partly the quest to become a murderer-for-hire and mostly because of the twisted, dark humour that runs through the narration.
There are footnotes. Normally I’m not a huge fan of footnotes, and the only non-fiction author that could really pull it off was Terry Pratchett. Most of the footnotes attempt injections of Discworld-style humour, and some certainly succeed, but I found most of them distracting. I liked the sarcastic, playful tone of the narrator and some of the snippets of world-building were funny, but I’m not sorry that they faded out the further into the book I got.
The narrator does have a habit of breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader on occasion, but I grew to quite like that. There is so much going on in this book, with many different characters and a very intricate world to build (three suns, two years between each truedark), that it works best with a narrator who can occasionally tell us things the characters won’t necessarily know. It’s not too overbearing either and doesn’t foreshadow too often. I also loved the dark humour it brings, especially when this book is based on violence. It stops everything for ever becoming too grim or gory, yet doesn’t ever gloss over unnecessarily.
Mia is an interesting main character, coldly focused in some ways, yet relatable and human in others. She definitely has her reasons for joining the Red Church, but I like that she’s not blindly fanatical about it. She’s loyal too and has her own strengths and morals, plus she’s smart and likes books, which definitely helps. I do feel that she lost some of her edge as the book progresses, though. At the beginning she seems a lot colder than she is at the end – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the footnotes make much of good points and swelling violins, so I definitely noticed it. She also has a habit of pulling out secret skills at vital moments that pushed the boundaries of believability on occasion. Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, and the plot itself is nicely more complicated than it sometimes appears, so everything just about gets away with it.
Then there’s Mister Kindly. I can’t really say much about him, except that he definitely adds his own intriguing characteristics to the tale.
Overall, this was great. An imaginative world with intricate myths and histories, compelling characters, dark humour and a plot that constantly draws you in, leaving you wanting more. A great start to this new series – I look forward to finding out where Mia’s vendetta takes her next.
Nevernight is Out Now.
Visit Jay Kristoff for more details.