From nonsense realms to assassin training in the dark (with a bit of magic thrown in too), I certainly took a bus, train then hop skip and a jump between The Phantom Tollbooth and Nevernight by Jay Kristoff!
Title: Nevernight (Nevernight #1)
Author: Jay Kristoff
It’s a murder book and you can’t trust anyone. So, basically, Mia has a revenge plan, but to succeed, she needs to become a blade – one of the deadliest assassins around. So she kills a murderer, takes his teeth and her magical darkness powers and trots off to find the school of assassins (in a mountain, lots of darkness). She gets in, and becomes one of the students learning how to fight, steal, seduce and make poisons. She forms allies and enemies and starts training how to be a kickass killer.
First off, the world is super complex, but also incredibly simple in that it is literally the church of light verses the church of night. Night comes rarely in this world, where there are multiple suns so it is incredibly rare for it to be what is called truedark. There are lots of things that make it Clear that this book is set in Not-Our-Earth, if that makes sense. Some fantasy series feel believable enough, but this one always felt a little on the side of the fantastical, even for me. There is magic, talismans have power, poison potions are brewed. Perhaps it wasn’t the world itself that I struggled with, but how wordy everything was. Everything was described to the max, all cloaked in shadow so it feels like you really have to work for absolutely everything, and even then, its probably the wrong assumption.
Mia, as a character, wasn’t awful. She was, in true hero form, impetuous and determined to keep hold of her own heart, but her observation skills weren’t too sharp. I really didn’t like the grumpy boy-toy she picks up on her way to the assassin school. But I did like the teachers, and I did like Ashlinn and Carlotta (and to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say I called it). There is a bit of LGBTQ rep, but not overtly, and there are some sex scenes, bloody fights, dismemberment, other gruesome things… y’know. Murder school, kinda filled with murderers.
The story was a bit…. honestly, it was a bit predictable, but it was also like wading through literary treacle to get there. I don’t think it was a bad story, I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads because it was not a bad story, it was just really hard going. And I really didn’t like the grumpy, whiney boy she is friends with. That storyline felt completely unnecessary.
I can’t decide if I’m going to read Godsgrave, the second book in the series, or if I’m just going to Wiki it to find out where the story is going. Even though it ends with the fat in the fryer, I don’t feel all that compelled to read on. Yes, it was good, but No, I don’t want to have to wade through the narrative again, even to find out what happened. I learnt more about the goddess Niah (who’s absolute best appellation is “Our Lady of Blessed Murder”) from the wiki than I did from the text.
My overwhelming emotion for Nevernight was one of disappointment. I had head good things, and I just found that it was goodish, but hard going and that made it more difficult to enjoy.