26114463by Jay Kristoff
4 of 5 stars

This cover grabbed me – and then the jacket summary grabbed me – and then finally I had it in my hands! Although this didn’t have quite the start that I hoped, by 100 pages in I was devouring Mia’s story as fast as I could.

Assassins might seem a little in vogue right now, but Mia is the first one to have real teeth behind the name.  We meet her at 16, as she begins the journey of finding and gaining acceptance into the Red Church, to serve Our Lady of Blessed Murder (the Dark goddess, Niah) as a Blade. There are two religions at work in this world, the dominant worship of Aa, the god of Light (and the three suns, etc) and those who serve the Dark. The Luminatii, Aa’s followers, killed Mia’s father and his men for treason, and locked up her mother and baby brother in the darkest prison available. Mia escaped thanks to her strange powers with shadows, and nursed her hatred for six years as she trained in the bowels of the city, waiting for her chance at revenge.**

We learn of Mia’s exploits via a narrator that seems to be part-historian part-confidante. Despite the built-in distance we get from this, I felt so invested in Mia and her quest for vengeance. She is clever enough to be exciting and interesting, but not so perfect that it saps the tension from her battles (of wits and steel). She’s ruthless but calculating, her pragmatism outweighing her fiery temper. I loved seeing her story unfold and I can’t wait for more!

What else did I love?

The world-building is heavy at times but when it came to the Red Church and the darkin I couldn’t get enough of the dark magic, rituals, and mythology. There’s a definite sense of atmosphere and you can never let your guard down. Speaking of guard, the plot is just twisty enough to suit me without feeling like I was strung along or information was withheld. The side characters are all rivals or teachers, yet they felt solid and real even if they weren’t given much page-time.

Finally, assassins that actually perform assassinations. Maybe the issue lies in YA, but this is the first time I felt like a group of assassins were actually dangerous, a bit bloodthirsty, and ruthless. I will say there’s lots of blood and gore, so if that is off-putting you may find this a difficult read. Personally, this is a world and a character I can’t wait to reacquaint myself with when the next installment comes out!

**There are footnotes throughout that range from sarcastic asides, to myths, to history. I found them annoying at first, but they diminish about halfway through, so don’t lose heart, Gentlefriend.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Nevernight is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu – The YA version of a dark heroine coming to terms with her powers and the revenge she’ll have with them. Adelina survived the blood fever, but like other children who didn’t die, she bears the marks and scars—she lost her left eye, and her black hair is now white. Betrayed by her father, she finds a new home with the Dagger Society, a group that tries to find the Young Elites before they are discovered and killed for their abilities. But Adelina’s powers are unlike anything they’ve ever seen. See my review here.
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – Lyra’s carefree childhood comes to an end when her estranged uncle Lord Asriel returns to put her in the care of Mrs. Coulter, a powerful scholar who offers her all the attention Lyra has lacked. But both of them are involved in a strange and dark battle for alternate universes and the nature of human souls. Lyra journeys to the mysterious north with a magical truth-telling device, the alethiometer, as her only aid to discovering what’s really happening.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Kell is one of the last Antari, magicians that can travel between the four parallel worlds. Officially, he works for the king of Red London (where magic is vibrant and free) but unofficially, he smuggles objects between the worlds for those willing to pay. But when he accidentally smuggles a piece of Black London (which should be extinct) into Red London, all hell breaks loose across the four worlds. See my review here.
  • The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas – For less bloody but no less brilliant plotting and backstabbing, these 5 novellas about Celaena Sardothien’s assassin education manage to be both fun and dark. See my review here.
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix – Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen, the only one who can keep the Dead in Death. But when he goes missing, Sabriel must assume his role despite having no training and limited knowledge. She’ll be the only one to stand against the greatest evil her world has ever seen. See my review here.
  • Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton – Not nearly as gritty as these other recs, but still creepy. Silla will do anything to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths—even some blood magic from a strange book that appears on her doorstep. But she quickly realizes she’s part of a larger story that hasn’t ended yet, and someone else will stop at nothing to claim her life and the book as well.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – A gang of criminals on an impossible heist, each determined to betray the others first. What could go wrong? See my review here.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Young Elites | To Live a Thousand Lives
  2. Trackback: A Darker Shade of Magic | To Live a Thousand Lives
  3. Trackback: Three Dark Crowns | To Live a Thousand Lives
  4. Trackback: Awakening – Monstress Vol. 1 | To Live a Thousand Lives

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