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Nevernight is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff.
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.
About the Author
JAY KRISTOFF is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Nevernight Chronicle, the Lotus War series and the co-author of the Illuminae Files. He is a winner of the Aurelius Award, was nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar, and Legend awards, was named multiple times in the Kirkus Review and Amazon Best Teen Books lists, and is published in more than twenty-five countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all this as you are.
He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of. He is 6'7 and has approximately 13,030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world's laziest Jack Russell.
He does not believe in happy endings.
Read an Excerpt
By Jay Kristoff
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Neverafter PTY LTD.
All rights reserved.
The boy was beautiful.
Caramel-smooth skin, honeydew-sweet smile. Black curls on the right side of unruly. Strong hands and hard muscle and his eyes, O, Daughters, his eyes. Five thousand fathoms deep. Pulling you in to laugh even as he drowned you.
His lips brushed hers, warm and curling soft. They'd stood entwined on the Bridge of Whispers, a purple blush pressing against the curves of the sky. His hands had roamed her back, current tingling on her skin. The feather-light brush of his tongue against hers set her shivering, heart racing, insides aching with want.
They'd drifted apart like dancers before the music stopped, vibration still thrumming along their strings. She'd opened her eyes, found him staring back in the smoky light. A canal murmured beneath them, its sluggish flow bleeding out into the ocean. Just as she wished to. Just as she must. Praying she wouldn't drown.
Her last nevernight in this city. A part of her didn't want to say goodbye. But before she left, she'd wanted to know. She owed herself that, at least.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
She'd looked up into his eyes, then.
Took him by the hand.
"I'm sure," she whispered.
* * *
The man was repugnant.
Sclerosis skin, a shallow chin lost in folds of stubbled fat. A sheen of spittle at his mouth, whiskey's kiss scrawled across cheeks and nose, and his eyes, O, Daughters, his eyes. Blue as the sunsburned sky. Glittering like stars in the still of truedark.
His lips were on the tankard, draining the dregs as the music and laughter swelled about him. He swayed in the taverna's heart a moment longer, then tossed a coin on the ironwood bar and stumbled into the sunslight. His eyes roamed the cobbles ahead, bleary with drink. The streets were growing crowded, and he forced his way through the crush, intent only on home and a dreamless sleep. He didn't look up. Didn't spy the figure crouched atop a stone gargoyle on a roof opposite, clothed in plaster white and mortar gray.
The girl watched him limp away across the Bridge of Brothers. Lifting her harlequin's mask to drag on her cigarillo, clove-scented smoke trailing through the air. The sight of his carrion smile and rope-raw hands set her shivering, heart racing, insides aching with want.
Her last nevernight in this city. A part of her still didn't want to say goodbye. But before she left, she'd wanted him to know. She owed him that, at least.
A shadow wearing the shape of a cat sat on the roof beside her. It was paper-flat and semitranslucent, black as death. Its tail curled around her ankle, almost possessively. Cool waters seeped out through the city's veins and into the ocean. Just as she wished to. Just as she must. Still praying she wouldn't drown.
"... are you sure ...?" the cat who was shadows asked.
The girl watched her mark slink toward his bed.
"I'm sure," she whispered.
* * *
The room had been small, sparse, all she could afford. But she'd set out rosejoy candles and a bouquet of water lilies on clean white sheets, corners turned down as if to invite him in, and the boy had smiled at the sugar-floss sweetness of it all.
Walking to the window, she'd stared at the grand old city of Godsgrave. At white marble and ochre brick and graceful spires kissing the sunsburned sky. To the north, the Ribs rose hundreds of feet into the ruddy heavens, tiny windows staring out from apartments carved within the ancient bone. Canals ran out from the hollow Spine, their patterns crisscrossing the city's skin like the webs of mad spiders. Long shadows draped the crowded pavements as the light of the second sun dimmed — the first sun long since vanished — leaving their third, sullen red sibling to stand watch through the perils of nevernight.
O, if only it had been truedark.
If it were, he wouldn't see her.
She wasn't sure she wanted him to see her through this.
The boy padded up behind her, wreathed in fresh sweat and tobacco. Slipping his hands about her waist, fingers running like ice and flame along the divots at her hips. She breathed heavier, tingling somewhere deep and old. Lashes fluttered like butterfly wings against her cheeks as his hands traced the cusp of her navel, dancing across her ribs, up, up to cup her breasts. Goosebumps prickled on her skin as he breathed into her hair. Arching her spine, pressing back against the hardness at his crotch, one hand snagged in his unruly locks. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't speak. She didn't want this to begin or to end.
Turning, sighing as their lips met again, she fumbled with the cufflinks in his ruffled sleeves, all thumbs and sweat and shakes. Pulling their shirts off, she crushed her lips to his, sinking down onto the bed. Just she and he, now. Skin to skin. Her moans or his, she could no longer tell.
The ache was unbearable, soaking her through, hands shaking as they explored the wax-smooth swells of his chest, the hard V-shaped line of flesh leading down into his britches. She slipped her fingers inside and brushed pulsing heat, heavy as iron. Terrifying. Dizzying. He groaned, quivering like a newborn colt as she stroked him, sighing around his tongue.
She'd never been so afraid.
Never once in all her sixteen years.
"Fuck me ...," she'd breathed.
* * *
The room was plush, the kind only the wealthiest might afford. Yet there were empty bottles on the bureau and dead flowers on the nightstand, wilted in the stale smell of misery. The girl took solace in seeing this man she hated so well-to-do and so totally alone. She watched him through the window as he hung up his frock coat, propped a battered tricorn on a dry carafe. Trying to convince herself she could do this. That she was hard and sharp as steel.
Perched on the rooftop opposite, she looked down on the city of Godsgrave; on bloodstained cobbles and hidden tunnels and towering cathedrals of gleaming bone. The Ribs stabbing the sky above her, twisted canals flowing out from the crooked Spine. Long shadows draping the crowded pavements as the second sun grew dimmer still — the first sun long since vanished — leaving their third, sullen red sibling to stand watch through the perils of nevernight.
O, if only it were truedark.
If it were, he wouldn't see her.
She wasn't sure she wanted him to see her in this.
Reaching out with clever fingers, she pulled the shadows to her. Weaving and twisting the black gossamer threads until they flowed across her shoulders like a cloak. She faded from the world's view, became almost translucent, like a smudge on a portrait of the city's skyline. Leaping across the void to his windowsill, she hauled herself up onto the ledge. And swiftly unlocking the glass, she slipped through to the room beyond, soundless as the cat made of shadows following behind. Sliding a stiletto from her belt, she breathed heavier, tingling somewhere deep and old. Crouched unseen in a corner, lashes fluttering like butterfly wings against her cheeks, she watched him filling a cup with quavering hands.
She was breathing too loudly, her lessons all a-tumble in her head. But he was too numbed to notice — lost somewhere in the remembered creaks of a thousand stretched necks, a thousand pairs of feet dancing to the nooseman's tune. Her knuckles turned white on the dagger's hilt as she watched from the gloom. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't speak. She didn't want this to begin or to end.
He sighed as he drank from the cup, fumbling with cufflinks on ruffled sleeves, all thumbs and sweat and shakes. Pulling his shirt off, he limped across the boards and sank down onto the bed. Just she and he now, breath for breath. Her end or his, she could no longer tell.
The pause was unbearable, sweat soaking her through as the darkness shivered. Remembering who she was, what this man had taken, all that would unravel if she failed. And steeling herself, she threw off her cloak of shadows and stepped out to meet him.
He gasped, starting like a newborn colt as she walked into the red sunslight, a harlequin's smile in place of her own.
She'd never seen anyone so afraid.
Not once in all her sixteen years.
"Fuck me ...," he breathed.
* * *
He'd climbed atop her, britches around his ankles. His lips on her neck and her heart in her throat. An age passed, somewhere between wanting and fearing and loving and hating, and then she'd felt him, hot and so astonishingly hard, pressing against the softness between her legs. She drew breath, perhaps to speak (but what would she say?) and then there was pain, pain, O, Daughters, it hurt. He was inside her — it was inside her — so hard and real she couldn't help but cry out, biting her lip to muffle the flood.
He'd been heedless, careless, weight pressed down on her as he thrust again and again. Nothing like the sweet imaginings she'd filled this moment with. Her legs splayed and her stomach knotted, kicking against the mattress and wanting him to stop. To wait.
Was this the way it should feel?
Was this the way it should be?
If all went awry later, this would be her last nevernight in this world. And she'd known the first was usually the worst. She'd thought herself ready; soft enough, wet enough, wanting enough. That everything the other street girls had said between the giggles and the knowing glances wouldn't be true for her.
"Close your eyes," they'd counseled. "It'll be over soon enough."
But he was so heavy, and she was trying not to cry, and she wished this wasn't the way it had to be. She'd dreamed of this, hoped it some kind of special. But now she was here, she thought it a stumbling, clumsy affair. No magik or fireworks or bliss by the handful. Just the press of him on her chest, the ache of him thrusting away, her eyes closed as she gasped and winced and waited for him to be done.
He pressed his lips to hers, fingers cupping her cheek. And in that moment there was a flicker of it — a sweetness to set her tingling again, despite the awkwardness and breathlessness and hurtingness of it all. She kissed him back and there was heat inside her, flooding and filling as his every muscle went taut. And he pressed his face into her hair and shuddered through his little death, finally collapsing atop her, soft and damp and boneless.
Lying there, she breathed deep. Licked his sweat from her lips. Sighed.
He rolled away, crumpled on the sheets beside her. Reaching between her legs, she found wetness, aching. Smeared on fingertips and thighs. On clean white linen with the corners turned down as if to invite him in.
"Why didn't you tell me this was your first?" he asked.
She said nothing. Staring at the red gleaming at her fingertips.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
She looked at him, then.
Looked away just as quickly.
"You've nothing to be sorry for."
* * *
She was atop him, knees pinning him down. His hand on her wrist and her stiletto at his throat. An age passed, somewhere between struggling and hissing and biting and begging, and finally the blade sank home, sharp and so astonishingly hard, sinking through his neck and scraping his spine. He drew sucking breath, perhaps to speak (but what could he say?) and she could see it in his eyes — pain, pain, O, Daughters, it hurt. It was inside him — she was inside him — stabbing hard as he tried to cry out, her hand over his mouth to muffle the flood.
He was panicked, desperate, scrabbling at her mask as she twisted the blade. Nothing like the dreadful imaginings she'd filled this moment with. His legs splayed and his neck gushing, kicking against the mattress and wanting her to stop. To wait.
Is this the way it should feel?
Is this the way it should be?
If all had gone awry, this would have been her last nevernight in this world. And she knew the first was usually the worst. She'd thought she wasn't ready; not strong enough, not cold enough, that Old Mercurio's reassurances wouldn't be true for her.
"Remember to breathe," he'd counseled. "It'll be over soon enough."
He was thrashing, and she was holding him still, and everything about her wondered if this was the way it would always be. She'd imagined this moment might feel like some kind of evil. A tithe to be paid, not a moment to be savored. But now she was here, she thought it a beautiful, balletic affair. His spine arching beneath her. The fear in his eyes as he tore her mask aside. The gleam of the blade she'd thrust home, hand over his mouth as she nodded and shushed with a mother's voice, waiting for him to be done.
He clawed her cheek, the vile reek of his breath and shit filling the room. And in that moment there was a flicker of it — a horror giving birth to mercy, despite the fact that he deserved this ending and a hundred more. Drawing back her blade, she buried it in his chest, and there was heat on her hands, flooding and sluicing as his every muscle went taut. And he grasped her knuckles and sighed through his death, deflating beneath her, soft and damp and boneless.
Sitting atop him, she breathed deep. Tasted salt and scarlet. Sighed.
She rolled away, crumpled sheets around her. Touching her face, she found wetness, warmth. Smeared on her hands and lips.
"Hear me, Niah," she whispered. "Hear me, Mother. This flesh your feast. This blood your wine. This life, this end, my gift to you. Hold him close."
The cat who was shadows watched from its perch on the bedhead. Watched her the way only the eyeless can. It said not a word.
It didn't need to.
* * *
Muted sunslight on her skin. Raven hair, damp with sweat and hanging in her eyes. She pulled up leather britches, tossed a mortar-gray shirt over her head, tugging on wolfskin boots. Sore. Stained. But glad in it, somehow. Somewhere near content.
"The room is paid up for the nevernight," she'd said. "If you want it."
The sweetboy had watched from the other side of the bed, head on his elbow.
"And my coin?" She motioned to a purse beside the looking glass.
"You're younger than my usuals," he'd said. "I don't get many firsts."
She looked at herself in the mirror then — pale skin and dark eyes. Younger than her years. And though evidence to the contrary lay drying on her skin, for a moment, she still found it hard to think of herself as anything more than a girl. Something weak and shivering, something sixteen years in this city had never managed to temper.
She'd pushed her shirt back into her britches. Checked the harlequin mask in her cloak. The stiletto at her belt. Gleaming and sharp.
The hangman would be leaving the taverna soon.
"I have to go," she'd said.
"May I ask you something, Mi Dona?"
"... Ask then."
"Why me? Why now?"
"That's no kind of answer."
"You think I should have saved myself, is that it? That I'm some gift to be given? Now forever spoiled?"
The boy said nothing, watching her with those fathom-deep eyes. Pretty as a picture. The girl drew a cigarillo from a silver case. Lit it on one of the candles. Breathing deep.
"I just wanted to know what it was like," she finally said. "In case I die."
She shrugged, exhaled gray.
"Now I know."
And into the shadows, she walked.
* * *
Muted sunslight on her skin. Mortar-gray cloak flowing down her shoulders, rendering her a shadow in the sullen light. She stood beneath a marble arch in the Beggar King's Piazza, the third sun hanging faceless in the sky. Memories of the hangman's end drying in the bloodstains on her hands. Memories of the sweetboy's lips drying with the stains on her britches. Sore. Sighing. But still glad in it, somehow. Still somewhere near content.
"Didn't die, I see."
Old Mercurio watched her from the other side of the arch, tricorn pulled low, cigarillo at his lips. He seemed smaller somehow. Thinner. Older.
"Not for lack of trying," the girl replied.
She looked at him then — stained hands and fading eyes. Old beyond his years. And though evidence to the contrary was crusting on her skin, for a moment, she found it hard to think of herself as anything more than a girl. Something weak and shivering, something six years in his tutelage had never managed to temper.
"I won't see you for a long time, will I?" she asked. "I might never see you again."
"You knew this," he said. "You chose this."
"I'm not sure there was ever a choice," she said.
She opened her fist, a sheepskin purse in her palm. The old man took the offering, counting the contents with one ink-stained finger. Clinking. Bloodstained. Twenty-seven teeth.
"Seems the hangman lost a few before I got to him," she explained.
"They'll understand." Mercurio tossed the teeth back to the girl. "Be at the seventeenth pier by six bells. A Dweymeri brigantine called Trelene's Beau. She's a freeship, not flying under Itreyan colors. She'll bear you hence."
"Nowhere you can follow."
"I've trained you well. This is for you alone. Cross the Red Church threshold before the first turn of Septimus, or you'll never cross it at all."
"... I understand."
Affection gleamed in rheumy eyes. "You're the greatest pupil I've ever sent into the Mother's service. You'll spread your wings in that place and fly. And you will see me again."
Excerpted from Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. Copyright © 2016 Neverafter PTY LTD.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
BOOK 1: WHEN ALL IS BLOOD,
CHAPTER 1: FIRSTS,
CHAPTER 2: MUSIC,
CHAPTER 3: HOPELESS,
CHAPTER 4: KINDNESS,
CHAPTER 5: COMPLIMENTS,
CHAPTER 6: DUST,
CHAPTER 7: INTRODUCTIONS,
CHAPTER 8: SALVATION,
CHAPTER 9: DARK,
BOOK 2: IRON OR GLASS,
CHAPTER 10: SONG,
CHAPTER 11: REMADE,
CHAPTER 12: QUESTIONS,
CHAPTER 13: LESSON,
CHAPTER 14: MASKS,
CHAPTER 15: TRUTH,
CHAPTER 16: WALK,
CHAPTER 17: STEEL,
CHAPTER 18: SCOURGE,
CHAPTER 19: MASQUERADE,
CHAPTER 20: FACES,
CHAPTER 21: WORDS,
CHAPTER 22: POWER,
CHAPTER 23: SWITCH,
CHAPTER 24: FRICTION,
CHAPTER 25: SKIN,
CHAPTER 26: HUNDRED,
CHAPTER 27: TRUEDARK,
BOOK 3: BLACK RUNS RED,
CHAPTER 28: VENOM,
CHAPTER 29: SEVERANCE,
CHAPTER 30: FAVORS,
CHAPTER 31: BECOMING,
CHAPTER 32: BLOOD,
CHAPTER 33: STEPS,
CHAPTER 34: PURSUIT,
CHAPTER 35: KARMA,
CHAPTER 36: SUNSSET,
ALSO BY JAY KRISTOFF,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I dont like going into details. Read the book you womt be sorry!
Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight is one of those books that has received so much hype that I’ll admit I kept pushing it aside on my shelf, fearing that it couldn’t possibly live up to the extremely high expectations I was building up in my own head for it. I finally picked it up this year for a reading challenge I’m participating in and despite a few hiccups that I had early on, I think it’s safe to say this book really does live up to the hype. As I was reading, I kept getting the vibe that it was basically a wild Game of Thrones/Harry Potter mash-up and since I love both of those series, it made for a winning combo for me. Nevernight isn’t a book for the faint of heart. It’s full of bloody violence, coarse language, treachery, and it has its fair share of smutty sex, but if you’re into those things, it’s a wild and entertaining ride!
This book was so much more than I thought it would be. More action more plotting more character development, it was all there. I absolutely love this book.
This book was unique and fantastic. I have not read anything like them. It was violent and funny. It made me cry and laugh often on the same page. I will let this quote from the narrator give you some insight to what this book was really like. "I mention this by way of warning, O, my gentle friends that your narrator shares no such restraint. And if the unpleasant realities of bloodshed turn your insides to water, be advised now that the pages in your hands speak of a girl who was to murder as maestros are to music. Who did to happy ever afters what a saw blade does to skin."
The writing was very exquisite! The story oh wow I just can not say enough how much I really loved this book. It took about 100 pages for the story to take off, but it was so worth hanging in there for this faced paced roller coaster! If you are sensitive to foul language beware because the "C" word is used and its a compliment to be called it in this magnificent dark world. My favorite adult fantasy at the moment!
This won't be your typical DNF review. Only because it's not a complete DNF, just merely a goodbye for now. It seems that this book just wasn't what I needed right then. This book has been on my radar since I heard about it. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis sounded amazing. And then it's by the author who co-wrote Illuminae and I just knew I was going to love it. But unfortunately, I had a couple issues with the writing style. I had just gotten out of a ten week summer class and I was super excited to start reading again. So I picked up a book I had been anticipating to celebrate, this one. But when I went to read it, there were footnotes included. Normally it's fine to read those, but they were almost on every page. And they weren't just short ones, they were longer ones and I felt like I was doing more work getting to them to read them than just enjoying the story. It took alot out of the story for me. Which was unfortunate because I really liked it so far. A friend of mine said they stop after a while, but coming out of a class like I just had, this one just wasn't for me. Also I think it kind of caught me off guard. I was expecting a young adult novel and this is not that. There's heavy violence, bad language, and really visual sex scenes. It's not really for the younger YA crowd. I can see that many parents may ask about it in the future since its marketed as YA because Mia is 16. Ultimately, this format just isn't for me. Maybe I can get with the writing style more later, but for now I have passed this on to someone who wants it more! I'll give this no rating because I want to continue it later in a different format.
pooled ink Reviews: This book was very intense, violent, bloody, dark, and most intriguing. It is a story full of revenge, survival, pushing one’s limits, and perhaps even a higher calling of sorts. There is magic and mysticism. There is searing light and whispering darkness. There is cruel wealth and cunning poverty. There is endless mystery and blunt truth. NEVERNIGHT was a solid read for sure but even so it didn’t quite capture my heart. I must say it is very well written. I enjoyed the dual timeline writing style that switched back and forth between the present and key moments in Mia’s past that slowly revealed who she was and what she could become. Oh, and I will emphasize that this book is a dark fantasy. It is not a romance and it is not a fairy tale. I know you’ve read plenty of books that are quite dark and edgy but even so there is a light to hold onto, usually found within the vein of romance. I’m just warning you now that that is not the case in this book. There is no love in this story. You may read this book and think you’ve found some, and indeed you may have, but this is a story about assassins and their path has no room for partners. Overall this was a very good book and while it didn’t overwhelm me with that first-read magic it did light a little spark inside me that I’ve no doubt will grow over time. Even as I type this review I can feel my fondness for this book growing (some books have me buzzing with adoration but while it flares brightly enough for a glowing review, after a few months it has flickered and abandoned me. This book, I’d wager, has sunk its claws into me and is here to stay). I don’t know if this makes sense but, I’m captured by this book but I don’t love it. Then again, this is a book of assassins, there is no room for love. NEVERNIGHT slits your hopes from ear to ear and lets all thought of happy endings bleed dry. Dark, captivating, and without mercy a tale unfolds about a girl who was more than a girl with a cat who was less than a cat. Let the shadows darken and dance, let them tell you their story. Read my FULL review here: https://pooledink.com/2016/11/16/nevernight/
I should probably begin by saying how thoroughly GUTTED this book has left me. After I reached the last page, I still kept flipping in the hopes that there would be JUST ONE MORE to help me fill the void in me. Like I said, GUTTED. Before going into Nevernight, I knew that: a) The Beginning was a little slow b) There were constant footnotes as add-on information to the story itself Since I ALREADY knew these things, I went in thoroughly prepared, and I just thought you should too, because well, the slow beginning shouldn’t put you off from reading the rest of the book that will ALTER what you look for in fantasy novels FOREVER. Things I need more of NOW (and cannot wait a year for): 1. THIS WORLD: There was such GORGEOUS world building in Nevernight, with the story of the overthrowing of the previous Liisain Monarchy and the establishment of the Iteryan Republic, the EXPLANATION of Nevernights and True Darks and everything in between (there are THREE suns in the world. How COOL IS THAT) All in all, it is a BEAUTIFULLY constructed world that gives you all the right information for you to vividly imagine EVERYTHING. 2. Mister Kindly: THIS NOT-CAT WAS EVERYTHING. He was loyal, omnipresent, filled with dark humour and sexual innuendo and is ALSO A SHADOW THAT DRINKS (absorbs) MIA’S FEAR. I loved the conversations between Mia and the Not-Cat, the fact that he was always there to protect her and well, I CAN’T WAIT FOR MORE. 3. The DARK humour: I haven’t read any of Jay Kristoff’s books before this one, but HOLY GOD, the humour (especially the DARK HUMOUR) and the terminology and the SASS in this book had me laughing, even in the most serious of times. 4. The Red Church: THIS IS THE HOGWARTS FOR ASSASSINS. I loved the fact that this place had seen no light, so the shadows were strongest, that it was almost a sentient being with its corridors and staircases changing at any given time. I mostly LOVED the Library with the dead books, new wings mysteriously showing up and the BOOKWORMS that would devour you if any book was taken out of place. 5. The Shaahids: Shaahids are masters of a particular discipline and are also the teachers in the Red Church. There was Mouser, the Shaahid of Pockets (stealing), Spiderkiller the Shaahid of Truth (Poison) and others who were brutal in their testing, teaching and judgement, and they were SO COOL. I loved reading their classes, loved the sheer ingenuity that went into creating assassins that could survive any situation. WONDERFUL. While the ending of this book left me CRAVING for more, and totally GUTTED that this was over (it isn’t a cliff-hanger, don’t worry) there were a few times when Mia (the GREATEST assassin in the world) was SOFT. She was kind, she was empathetic, she felt BAD about killing people and that didn’t go with the Stab Stab Stab nature of the whole book? There are so many characters in this book that I loved and lost and will continue to mourn for many Nevernights to come, but FOR GOD’S (Aah/ Niah) SAKE, READ IT. A Dark, Brutal, Stabby book that will redefine what fantasy means to you.
I received a FREE ARC (advanced reader copy) from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Let me start by saying this book is exquisite. My jaw was literally on the floor when I got to the last page. It’s been YEARS since I was this excited after finishing a Fantasy book (GRACELING). Thank you, Jay Kristoff. NEVERNIGHT is a serious breath of fresh air in a very crowded genre. NEVERNIGHT is a tale of of revenge. At the age of 10, Mia Corvere witnesses her father’s execution, sees her mother and baby brother dragged away to prison, and narrowly escapes murder at the hands of her father’s traitorous enemy’s lackeys. She is taken in by a retired assassin and begins her journey to become a member of the deadliest group of Assassins, the Red Church. By becoming one of the deadliest assassins, she hopes to murder those who took her family and her life from her. Jay Kristoff is a masterful wordsmith and storyteller. His language is beautiful both in style and delivery. I love the way Kristoff weaves back and forth between Mia’s childhood journey and her very adult journey into the Red Church. However, just when you think you’ve caught on to his formula of storytelling, he flips the narrative on its head and goes in an entirely different direction. This author marches to his own beat and I love it. The humor he finds in some of the most intense situations is perfection. The characters are complex and well fleshed out. Mia is a fascinating protagonist—she’s flawed and seemingly unlikeable, but you cannot help rooting for her. Deep down she’s loyal—someone who cares about others and cares about doing the right thing. Interesting, considering she’s a murderer, right? Tric’s narrative and place in Mia's story is the perfect complement and allows us to see her in a different light. NEVERNIGHT is and excellent beginning to an exciting new series. I am eagerly anticipating the next story in this adventure! --- Going to go on a tangent for a moment… I try not to read reviews of ARCs beforehand to make sure my opinions aren’t being swayed by others. I find it quite helpful to think on the book for at least 24 hours and if I’m still having trouble finding the right words I will read a variety of reviews to organize my own thoughts and see what discussions are going on. Let me just say: I am SO glad I didn’t delve into these reviews until after I’d finished. This book is seriously polarizing (seems people either love it or hate it). I get the feeling that many of the negative reviews are a result of inappropriate expectations. From what I gathered (correct me if I’m wrong), Jay Kristoff’s previous bestselling series (THE ILLUMINAE FILES) is YA. This book… Not YA. I repeat: This book is NOT YA. There is a significant amount of adult content (violence and sex). Woo! ;) Nothing my teenage self wouldn’t have totally read anyway. BUT the language and writing style is highly elevated and could be viewed as a bit dense. This is not an easy peasy, vacay read. You’re going to have to DIG in. But OH MY WOW, is it worth it!!!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Nevernight by Jay Kristoff Book One of the Nevernight trilogy Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books Publication Date: August 9, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined. Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves. Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge? What I Liked: I'm going to be completely honest - when I first started reading this book, I struggled with it. I had been so excited to read it for months, and I'd finally gotten a review copy earlier in the year, and I'd been tearing through my summer review books in eagerness to get to this one. And then the time came, and I started reading... and barely made it past chapter one. I don't know what it was. The story was okay, but not boring (at least from the first chapter). I still desperately wanted to read the book. But something was off, and I struggled to get past chapter one. I read several adult romance novels in the interim, a few YA books, and finally, I returned to this book, and tried again. And promptly read it from start to finish in a few hours. I don't know what held me back initially (maybe my mood?), but it didn't bother me the second time around! Mia's family was brutally taken from her by the Senate years ago, and she has been bent on vengeance ever since. She has been trained by a man named Mercurio to become an assassin, and the time has come to join the Red Church, to become a Blade of the Lady of Blessed Murder. She and about thirty other acolytes learn and fight and compete to become a Blade - only four will be granted the title and role. But there is a traitor in the midst, a killer who has no mercy on acolytes. And the killer has a greater motive than killing acolytes, one that goes beyond achieving the title of Blade. First and foremost: this book is not a YA book, or an NA book. People, PLEASE do not make the mistake of thinking that this is one of Kristoff's YA books. It's not. There are very explicit sex scenes (scenes I'm used to reading in steamy adult romance novels - you know how much I love my romance novels), graphic violence, lots of profanity... none of which surprise me in an adult novel (whether it's adult romance, adult contemporary, adult sci-fi, etc.). Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Is Kristoff a talented writer and does he know how to write a wicked fantasy? Yes, absolutely. However Nevernight wasn’t a perfect read, despite being a good one. The chapters in between Mia meeting Tric and the two of them reaching the church are superfluous, if not boring, and the only saving grace is the fact Mia meets Naev in those chapters. A better edit and it would have been a compelling read from start to finish. Then there are the footnotes. Sometimes they fit into the narrative, but more often than not they interrupt the flow of the story. Less is more in this case. Aside from that minor hiccup Nevernight is a really good read. It is filled with violence and quite a few scenes of a sexual nature, so I wouldn’t peg this as a book for younger readers. Mia wants to avenge her family, in fact that is her only drive in life. To achieve a specific type of status and training, which will allow her to kill the people who destroyed her family and tried to kill her. She seeks entry to the Hogwarts School of murder and assassination, and to be completely fair she brings her own special brand of wizardry to the table. She travels with her own personal shadow. The type that protects, eats emotions and talks to her. Is Mr Kindly a friend or a gateway into a world of even darker magic? The type of magic Mia doesn’t really comprehend and I hope Kristoff will explore a little more in the next part of the Nevernight Chronicles. The assassin curriculum is ruthless and volatile. A hardcore school for murderous misfits. You can get killed doing the tasks, taking part in the competitions and hey just randomly because you’ve given a fellow assassin the side-eye. The ending was a spectacular bonanza of death, betrayal and pain . Loyalties are questioned and Mia learns some hard lessons. I am looking forward to seeing how this series progresses. *I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.*
Quick note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Nevernight has some fantastic things to offer to the mind of the reader. It's rich in a fantastical world, with characters filled with depth, and has an edge that you just can't stop looking over. I found myself, during the last half of the book especially, wanting to keep turning the page to see what happens next. Starting out, I did have a bit of a rough time. The beginning of the book (about the first 100 pages or so) is filled with background of Mia, our main character, and the world that she has grown up in and currently resides in. It is necessary to the story and not just put in there to fill pages though. And part of me really enjoyed seeing this unique world. There are quite a few footnotes in the beginning of the book that dive deeper into the world. I often lose my place with footnotes, so I chose to forgo them and go back and read them later. Doing this I didn't feel like I missed any parts of the story. I feel like the footnotes are more of a bonus to the story and the world. A bonus I much appreciated. Then we have Mia. The more I think about Mia, the more I like her. She develops so well throughout the story. She comes from being in this vengeful dark place to seeing more outside and around herself. There's a strong depth from Mia that suggests that there is so much more to see with her and I can't wait to find out in the next book. Though there has been suggestion that there's some smutty bits in this book, I almost started to think that it was a main point of the book. It's not. BUT I wasn't disappointed. It was a part of the story, and it was swoony, but it wasn't a main point. It didn't consume the story, or Mia's life. The world was so rich and unique, I loved it. I loved the magic. There was a unique language to this world, such as night being called nevernight that puts you right into the world. It feels like since you are speaking, or rather reading, the language that you're are a part of it. It was a cool experience, and one of my favorite parts. If you're looking for a darker fantasy. One with some gore, but BA characters. One with rich detail. One with everything, a murder mystery, a romance, a school of assassins, I think this book has something for everyone.
Ah, this book. How do I even do it justice?! You need to read this fantasy. Plus, ALL US FIRST EDITIONS WILL BE SIGNED! This one was one of my most anticipated reads and now that I've read it, I'm just. I want to reread it again. What do I have to look forward to?! I won't say much but God, how did Jay write this! This world is so richly filled with detail, and his style for introducing them was great. He used asterisks throughout the book and you can read more about the world: phrases, money, tales, history, in the footnotes. I LOVED this but it did make pull me from the story a bit. It's less frequent towards the end and overall it helped me be more immersed in the world. And it's a dark dark world. It's a cruel world that Jay has created and that Mia must battle. In order to survive, Mia needs to become an assassin in order to avenge her family. In the process she finds herself a not-cat friend, who was MY FAVORITE EVER! (Reminds me of Sailor Moon & Luna!) their loyalty and connection to each other makes me want one for myself. The other characters were pretty great too but my heart is filled with Mia; she was such a strong female lead. This isn't YA and if you didn't already know the first few pages will let you know. (That paralleled scene!!) There's cursing, sex, blood and gore! So much blood and gore! So mature readers, this one is highly recommended. I loved the book for its voice. The narrator of the story captivates you and sometimes the fourth wall is broken—favorite scenes were always when the narrator had a snide remark lol the writing was vivid and mesmerizing. Some scenes a bit too vivid (the narrator made it all perfect though, I can't wait to see if they'll have a audiobook bc it would be really cool with the style!) The ending was so on point, I don't even mind the wait for book two bc i can tell its gonna be a great freaking book.
This book was so amazing that immediately after finishing it, I purchased TWO copies for myself. If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what else will. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is an amazing feat wordsmanship that takes your breath away with the very first chapter. The worldbuilding, character development, pacing, and story are incredible, each at the very top of excellence. Do yourself a favor, if you’re in the US, go pre-order this right now while you still can and get a signed copy of the book. If you’re in the UK, try picking up one of the special editions. This is likely the best fantasy book I’ve read in 2016, or even in a very long while. Probably not since The Name of the Wind have I been so enthralled (and this author actually seems like he will continue writing the series instead of abandoning it like Rothfuss did after The Wise Man’s Fear.) The premise is a simple one. Revenge. We have the orphaned highborn forced to fend for herself, nourishing her soul on thoughts of vengeance – for herself, her mother, her world. You might think you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, but Kristoff does a tremendous job of making this feel different. It feels more intimate, more human. Which is exactly the problem Mia Corvere has once she enters the school for assassins, the Red Church. She feels too much, even though she tries her hardest to be steel, sharp and unyielding. Mia is just one of the many characters with their reasons for joining the Red Church, and Kristoff gives each of them their own identity. I want to know more about each and every one of them (maybe especially Hush????). Not only are the characters incredibly well-developed, but the world feels remarkably tangible. I never once struggled to imagine the world. I felt my feet firmly planted in the world he created. This is the type of worldbuilding where I’d happily buy an encylopedia of sorts just explaining more of the physical world, the wars, the religions, etc. The pacing is just as quick as the wit in Nevernight. However, thanks to the solid foundation Kristoff has with his worldbuilding, you’re never swept off your feet and left struggling to catch up. Indeed, towards the end, there are some bits you come to expect (the song competition, the spider competition) but then there are still massive bits that come as such as shock, even though in retrospect it makes complete sense, that you feel every bit of feeling Mia does. I don’t want to give too much away because I need you guys to pick this up and read it for yourselves. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is by far and away the best fantasy book in 2016. With solid worldbuilding, character development, pacing, story, and incredible wordsmanship, Kristoff has given me a new favorite book, favorite world, to hold beside The Name of the Wind and Lord of the Rings, something I’d not thought to find in a book with a 16 year old protagonist.
Please Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the opinions in my review in any way. I have thought about how I was going to write this review for a long time. Yes, I loved it. But I also found it quite unsettling, as well. In this novel, the main character, Mia, seeks to become an assassin and must become an apprentice to the Red Church to do this. The assassin school is a sort of ultra-violent Hogwarts (they are learning to be killers after all). The scenes of brutality are tough to get through and you feel as though you, yourself, have gone through the ordeals. What I liked: I really loved the alliances, life or death puzzles and other obstacles in this book. It was great to think you had things figured out and then realize something else was happening. I love misdirection! The story is also extremely well-written with creative creatures and settings. Three are desert monsters, creepy (literal) blood baths, and more poison than I have ever seen in a YA book. The city seems to have a Venetian Renaissance aesthetic to it, with seedy taverns, lavish palaces, and stunning clothes to match. There is even a masquerade! What I was mixed about: Yes, I am about to sound like a prude, but I was really thrown by the two graphic sex scenes. Why am I more upset about the sex scenes and not about the extreme violence? Great question. My answer is one I have thought about for weeks. Yes, the violence is unsettling, but in a book about assassins it is to be expected. But the sex scenes were between a sixteen-year old and a seventeen-year old. Why this would upset me so much? I talked with my husband about it. He then asked me this important question, "Would you be as shocked if the characters were older?" to which I answered, "No." I think that, as someone from the United States, I consider these characters to be minors. Jay Kristoff, the author of Nevernight, lives in Australia where the age of consent is sixteen. Of course I know that teens have sex. But I don't want a blow by blow account of what goes on between kids. That is creepy! Let us know what is happening and then fade to black, please. I need to say this again: I did love this book! But my personal discomfort is making me take off half a star. Otherwise it is perfection.
The first line of this book description had me hooked at school of assassins and parts of it hinted at shades of Hunger Games and Nikita. But I struggled with this novel and it seemed as if it took double my usual amount of time to finish. Part of that is because it's a long book, at over 400 pages, but it's also a very heavy and dark read with a large amount of description that bogged me down and took me out of the story. I nearly quit several times, but the reviews I'd read were positive and the pacing picked up at times, only to dip again soon after - but I stuck it out. Although the primary characters are young adults, this isn't a YA book and I wouldn't recommend it for the younger crowd. This book wasn't really for for me, but based on many other reviews, I think dark fantasy fans would find it a compelling read. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Mia Corvere has lost everything she held dear to her heart, she grows up to become strong and hard, she grows up with revenge in her heart and the desire to see everyone she hates suffer and die but to make her plans of revenge come to life she first needs to study to become an assassin. I loved this book so much, the premise was a first for me, she basically goes to school to become a deadly assassin that was brilliant, the settings of the book reflected Mia's feeling is many ways, the narration was beautiful, we get to go into Mia's head and see how she thinks how ever flawed and fearful those thoughts are. The book is set in a world that is dark, real, hard, ugly and the characters that we meet are an extension of that world, we see pain and we also see power and desire and the people who are willing to go to any ends to obtain it. The book sometimes takes us to the past not just Mia's but the way hints were created or the way things were in the beginning of their times and Jay manages to make those parts as interesting as the book itself, the book really flies by and you end up hoping for footnotes at the end of each chapter to read more interesting story, this unique format really worked for me. The last few chapter went by so fast, it was one thing after another, action, plot twists, heartbreak, pretty much everything happened and since this is a new series I'm sure all the books to come are going to be equally fascinating and I can't wait to read them.
After devouring Illuminae and meeting Jay, I was pretty certain that I would read anything and everything he put out. I loved Mia. She's snarky and stubborn and spiteful and the type of person you don't want to get angry. There are loads of awesome characters, but trying to say what I liked about them almost seems like it would be doing them a disservice. I will say Spiderkiller is one of my favorites. The plot is mean and vengeful and bloody and I loved it. It's filled with footnotes that made me cackle, death scenes with guts, friendships I reveled in and villains I hated. I don't think anyone could have written this the way Jay did. I eagerly await a finished copy to pet while I long for book 2. **Huge thanks to Thomas Dunne Books and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**