Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle, #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: August 11th 2016
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Reading this book was an adventure, it was like being punched in the face by my best friend because I never saw it coming but afterwards I was shocked, surprised, and overwhelmed all at the same time. I was late jumping on the Nevernight bandwagon. Everyone seemed to be eagerly anticipating this release but, until I read another glowing review for this book, the hype seemed to pass me by. Now I’ve finished Nevernight I can understand the hype, understand the anticipation, because this book is now competing for my top read of 2016.
When Mia was ten years old she watched as her father was hung for crimes of rebellion and treason, and she watched as her mother and baby brother were dragged away to the Philosopher’s Stone, a pit where all the criminals not deserving of execution are thrown. Mia herself was taken far away to be killed but she managed to escape and when she stopped running she found herself alone in the Godsgrave backstreets. But she wasn’t alone for long. She soon discovered her Darkin companion, Mister Kindly, and met Mercurio, the man who would teach her before sending her off to the Red Church to be trained as one of the deadliest assassins there are.
But after the deadly journey to the Red Church, where Mia and Tric – a boy she met along the way also searching for the Red Church – faced off against sand krakens and Hands of the Red Church, they soon discover their hardships have only just begun.
All in all there are thirty apprentices competing for only four spots as Blades of the Church, the very best of the best. They are put through their trials; learning sword play from the Shalid of Songs, Solis, thievery from the Shalid of Pockets, Mouser, poisons from the Shalid of Truths, Spiderkiller, and seduction from the Shalid of Masks Aalea. It’s not a journey to be undertaken lightly, as Mia quickly realises, and the fact that she is a Darkin quickly becomes more of a hindrance than a help in the halls of the Red Church. And as the lessons and tests commence the more and more of the thirty apprentices prove they are not made of the iron the Red Church requires them to be.
There is a lot of things happening in this book and there were certain events that I didn’t think were important because the characters or the Red Church dismissed them, and by the time the chapter was done they had been put to the back of my mind, but by the end of the book all those small plot strings came together in a way that will left me in awe.
Mia is a Darkin, someone who can control the shadows and pull the darkness around herself, and as such I expected her to have an advantage in a school of assassins, but if anything it’s the opposite. The first time she uses her ability she is severely punished for it and it’s a hard lesson but one she immediately takes to heart and learns from. Mia doesn’t arrive at the Red Church and immediately become a master of all hands. She works hard training in all the different weapons the Shalid of Songs trains them in. And, as she knows she will never be as gifted as others at thievery or seduction, she works on the skills she does have.
There are other apprentices in the Church who see more in Mia, people who question whether she is sure she wants to walk down the path she is. There is still compassion in Mia for the people she cares for which seems to be missing from most of the other apprentices, but she is desperate to get revenge for her family; for her mother and brother locked away in the Philosopher’s Stone and her father hung as a traitor. Mia is determined and it’s that determination that keeps her going. As a Darkin Mia is incredibly powerful but there is something holding her back from her full potential, something she fears even with Mister Kindly taking away her fears.
Tric travelled to the Red Church alongside Mia and his desire to become a Blade is similar to hers; revenge. He too holds too tightly to his fears and his past at times which gets him into trouble. The relationship that developed between Mia and Tric was a slow burn, but it allowed them to become more to one another than just fellow apprentices; even while, when it comes down to it, they are still in competition with one another.
The other characters are all incredibly well developed as well. Each apprentice has their own motivations and desires for being at the Red Church and becoming a Blade, and those desires are not always easy to spot. It’s hard to know who to trust when there are thirty apprentices competing for only four Blade positions. They are each out for their own purposes, not there to make friends but there in competition with one other.
If the story itself was incredible then the world building was beyond compare. We learn all the facts we need to keep the story moving forwards – about the Red Church and its history with the Republic, as well as the Gods each faction worship, about Mia’s familia and Darkin’s – but there are also footnotes throughout the story which, while they aren’t essential to understanding the plot, give a much deeper understand as to the world itself. Through the footnotes we learn more about the kings, queens, nobles, and even criminals who have influenced the city and it’s customs. The whole world has a very dark feel to it. The closed-off mountain where the Red Church makes it home only amplifies the horrors that are committed in the Niah’s name. There are two sides fighting a war in Nevernight, the Republic who worship Aa and the Red Church who worship Niah, but both sects have their dark side.
I didn’t see the ending coming, not from a mile away, but I was engrossed even more on the last few chapters than I was before. No one is safe in this book, you never know who will survive the Red Church and who will perish, but you will be hooked from the first page.
What did you think of Nevernight? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.