Jay Kristoff: Nevernight

*Potential for spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Nevernight Cover

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Corvere 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 within equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

Nevernight is one of those books where you immediately judge it by its cover! Upon first seeing the cover over on Twitter, I immediately knew that I needed to buy this book. It looked dark and mysterious and I was gripped by the tagline, ‘Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.’ And boy, I was not wrong in my opinion!

Kristoff’s Nevernight’s fantasy, young adult novel (the first in a series!) follows Mia Corvere as she attempts to become a Blade within The Red Church. After the hanging of her father, her Mother instills in her words that she will never forget and, it is from this moment, that she plans to avenge her father and the rest of her family as they are permanently pulled apart. Nevernight is a novel filled with magic, daemons, humour, betrayal, love, friendship, and much more.

‘People often shit themselves when they die.’

With such an opening line, Nevernight sets us off in the right frame of mind. You immediately get the sense that this novel will not hold back and will give you everything that it has. Kristoff shows us the brutalities of living in this fantasy world with much of the politics, culture, and society based off of Roman civilisation and brings to the world a darkly humorous novel: pitting numerous 16-year-olds against each other in brutal sword-fights, ingesting deathly poisons, and mastering the art of seduction – all in an attempt to become master assassins. It was refreshing to see these young characters in an altogether unrealistic scenario that was intriguing and gripping, after all – it is a fantasy novel!

The character of Mia Corvere is a breath of fresh air in a genre where many authors seem to afraid to portray their characters as realistically human. Corvere swears, is aware of her body sexually, is at odds with her emotions surrounding boys, and is both tomboyish but altogether feminine. Many young adult novels seem to skip all this typical teenage emotion and awareness for smutty love interests that leave the audience swooning at the male characters handsome good looks and gentleman-like, or bad-boy, attitude. In this case, Corvere is confused about her emotions that distract her from the true task at hand and her love interest, Tric, seems to be as confusing to Mia as it would be in reality. He is charming yet masculine with a hidden past; gentle yet strong. They appear to be perfect together, both battling their emotions and spending time together after dark like typical teenagers trying to hide the truth of their relationship.

I was also greatly impressed by the intertextualisation of the Roman civilisation and their politics, culture etc into this novel. It makes the situation regarding Mia and the other teenagers more realistic and brings reason to why these events are taking place. I’ve always loved historical fiction novels and, though this obviously doesn’t fall into this category, I loved reading about the civilisation from a fictional point of view and how Kristoff implemented these aspects to fit his fantasy world. I could also see the many authors that influenced him, possibly reading further into some sentences than I should have reminding me so clearly of a popular TV show!

I found this to be a brilliant book to read, finding myself engrossed in the writing style and the narratives it told. I loved finding out through alternate narrative strands about Mia’s past and how she came to be who she was and how these events had influenced her as a person. It was a gripping and fast read and I greatly look forward to the rest of the series!

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