By: Fayetta Doll, Staff Reporter
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff blends eager bloodlust with rich character development. Before beginning Nevernight I expected the protagonist—if she can truly be called that, with as many murders as she has under her belt—to be unlikeable. The cliché “I’m a badass murderer who is super tough and wicked” being what I expected from her. I certainly did not expect to be in love with her by the end of the story. And it wasn’t because of the flowery, beautiful descriptions of her face, mind you. Although, if she wanted to kiss me I wouldn’t say no. Most importantly, I loved how she was there for people. She clearly struggled with her own trauma and despite being in a troubling predicament in which she was basically competing with all her friends and enemies she was still there to listen and support. Many times she’d be like “I probably shouldn’t be doing this” but then she’d go and tell someone else “I’m here for you,” or another such kindness.
Basically Mia is a big, sweet, adorable murder girl with a heart of gold and a hunger for revenge so consuming she decided to join a church for a goddess she doesn’t even believe exists.
But oh this goddess. Oh this mythology. This world is so rich and deliciously potent that I could drown in it if given the chance.
However, it’s very dense. If you are a casual reader looking for a quick and easy read this is definitely not for you (although I’d still recommend it if you’re willing to devote a lot of time to it). There are a lot of footnotes and a lot of history that goes into creating this world, and while I am a world-building fanatic I know not everyone is willing to throw themselves into a world like this. Kristoff’s writing style is full of imagery (my favorite), metaphors, and it is extremely flowery. If you’ve read something flowery before then be prepared because this may just be even more flowery. I know a lot of people who don’t like this style of writing. But I loveit. Granted, the prose added to the density of the book.
The plot was slow-paced, albeit interesting. A lot of things were happening, but it felt drawn out.
Returning to Mia and her amazing character, there was one line that stuck out to me. It was on page 236. “She beat it back. The fear. Slowly. Every inch a mile. But she pushed it away, down into the bottom of her feet, stamping it hard as she could.” This line lends itself to the excellent way trauma was handled in Nevernight. Anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly passionate about mental health and portraying mental illness in a way that is not demonized, over-exaggerated, fetishized, etc. Or to show characters being unrealistic regarding mental health. Unlike most fantasy characters, Mia was clearly affected by the traumas of her past, they haunted her. Also unlike most, if not all, fantasy characters, Mia has a not-cat living in her shadow that eats her fear (most of the time). Mister Kindly. The cat that is not a cat, made of shadows. He was one of my favorite characters, because duh, cats. My other favorite was Tric, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me well. Of course I’d love the self-sacrificing sweetie pie.
Also, there were a total of three sex scenes. So, fair warning if you do pick it up. The scenes are on pages 5-11, 249-255, and 289-290. If you still want to read it but aren’t comfortable with scenes like that then no sweat because believe me, I’m not the biggest fan either. The first listed scene is pretty important as it’s the beginning of the story, but it isn’t the only thing going on in those pages—trust me, you’ll understand if you pick it up—so you can easily skip them. Those page numbers are based on the hardback copy, I’m not sure if it’s different elsewhere. Another warning, there’s a lot of bloodshed and murder and detailed descriptions of wounds and such. It’s about assassins worshipping Our Lady of Blessed Murder. What do you expect?
I give Nevernight 8/10 flowers. My Goodreads rating was 5/5 stars, however. Because damn, this was a good book.