Buy or Borrow: BUY IT NOW. NOOOOW!
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere 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 without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.
The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.
The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.
So. I've been sitting staring at this page for around about 90 minutes, trying to decide what to write and where to start, because I loved this book so damn much. Like, I've really had to reign myself in when writing this review otherwise it'd be spoiler central. I could honestly write pages and pages about how much I loved this book, it's one of my favourites of the year, and it's tied with ACOMAF for complete and utter favourite. I remember stumbling across this book on Goodreads having never heard of the author before, (sorry Jay!), and being intrigued by the synopsis. I thought it sounded like fun, and I was eager to read it. Within the first couple of pages I knew this book was going to be a favourite, I just completely fell in love.
"The countless endings she'd gifted, the orchestra of screams, and she, the scarlet maestro"
The opening is interesting, I've never read anything like it before. You meet Mia for the first time and watch as she goes through two firsts in her life, that are very different. It was written amazingly, and I was reading it like...wow. Okay. This is going to be good. I was hooked from then on. I completely and utterly loved the writing style and the language used, and the descriptions and ugh. It was beautifully written, an odd contrast to how much savagery is contained within the pages. Although some of the descriptive sentences did have a murdery tinge to them! Jay is a fantastic storyteller, I'm not going to lie to you!
I loved the footnotes, they where amusing and had me snorting and cackling to myself as I read them. I wasn't expecting them, I haven't read a book with footnotes in a very long time, and they seemed kind of Pratchett-y, but they fit so well with the book as well as adding some more intrigue. I liked that they added information and background and history a lot of the time in a fun, humorous way that stopped the narrative from being clunky with a tonne of information. It helped you to understand the world of the book and some of the comments where just hilarious.
"Would it kill you, to serve [stab] some fucking [stab] salad?"
I loved the cast of characters. Mia was strong, she overcame a lot and you see how far she's come since the events of her childhood, she was determined in her goal and her principles. She was snarky and badass and I loved watching her grow as a character over the course of the book, facing the 'darkness within' and her memories of the past and what happened to her and her family. Making friends. Letting someone love her, and letting herself love someone. Mr Kindly the non-cat shadow, her companion and her one true friend. He was always there for her and while I was kind of suspicious of him a lot of the time because hello....strange shadow creature, he cracked me up more than once with his reprimands and comments.
Tric. Oh Tric. I wasn't too sure about you in the beginning, but as he grew on Mia, he grew on me too. He was funny and badass, and he had an almost vulnerable side to him when he spoke to Mia about his past, and I really felt for him. I loved his relationship with Mia. Romance is not at all the main point of this book so there's none of the usual romance type things. They're buddies, fellow assassins in training, both wanting the other to succeed, and then at one point things change and I liked how it was done, keeping the focus on the plot. I liked how Mia was content to just have some fun, have a physical relationship. It made a change from the usual romance you see, and it fit so well with Mia. I shipped her and Tric SO HARD.
Aside from Mia and Tric there are other assassins to love and hate. I loved Ash. She was hilarious and a perfect friend to Mia. A master thief and she helped her out a lot, although I did get a bad and ominous feeling after she stole something for Mia. I'm not going to say anymore about Ash. She broke my heart. Carlotta, another favourite of mine. She was intelligent and I loved her humour. Naev, her friendship with Mia and her willingness to help her so much. Adonai and Marielle, an odd pair, but an interesting couple of characters. I'm so intrigued by their backstory and their history and I loved the idea of the 'magic' they used taking something. Each of the characters intrigued me, I wanted to know more about them and more of their backstory, like Hush, I was SO curious about him! I wanted to know what made each of them choose the assassin life. I'm also so intrigued by the mentors for each of the halls, I LOVED Spiderkiller I mean, she did the whole, 'hey you might have murdered someone, well done' head pat. I actually cackled. I was SO curious about Cassius too! But also the others, like I NEED more backstory for them all!
"You'd be surprised how motivating a grumpy ex-murderer with no testicles can be"
Alongside my favourite characters, there where also plenty of characters for me to dislike. Jessamine. Man I hated her. SO MUCH. Like to another level. I spent the entire book eagerly waiting for someone to gut her. There are plenty of villains in this book that you just love to hate. I couldn't help but smile when they got what was coming to them. This book made me SO bloodthirsty, I was like "Ugh I hate this character, FILLET THEM MIA". All the time. All.The.Time. I can't even! I can't wait for the next book and for Mia to get her targets. It's gonna be AWESOME.
Plot wise, I loved the dual plot that we had going on at points. We had present Mia, heading to the Red Church and training, and then we had past Mia as a child and how she came to be a murderer in training, and what she went through as a child and so on. I really liked it, you got to know Mia on another level, and saw how she developed and became the person she is, and it answered a lot of questions too about her past. It was fantastically done. The pacing was perfect. The plot had intrigue and fighting and murder and plenty of threads twining together to keep you reading, keep you guessing, keep you trying out theories as you try to work things out. Vengeance is stamped all over this book, and I spent the entire book wanting Mia to get it, and the most brutal and savage way possible. I felt so connected to Mia that I was rooting for her, and I wanted what she wanted. There are some brilliantly savage scenes that I should probably blame video games and Game of Thrones for desensitising me to, to the level that I actually cheered once or twice. Hey. They had it coming. There's also plenty of adventure and humour and epic fight scenes, and even a little bit of torture.
Nevernight's pages are blood soaked. Seriously. Blood is everywhere in this book. It's gory and vicious and pretty damn glorious all at once. The plot is full of savagery and never once does your interest wander from the page and the plot and what's happening. It's all Nevernight all the time. Even when you're not reading the book! The world is one that rises up around you, and you can vividly picture the settings, and you want to see more of this fantastically imagined world that's been created. It's extensive and itching to be explored, I'm hoping to see even more of it in the next book! Along with that, it's cinematic, each scene playing out in your minds eye perfectly and it's atmospheric. The Red Church gave me the shivers once or twice. I know the back of the book says it's not Hogwarts but like...it's a murdery kinda Hogwarts, and your teachers are willing to poison you and lop off limbs. I mean...I'm sure Snape's wanted to poison a student or two, can't really blame him!
Nevernight is a truly engrossing read that has you hooked from page one thanks to the beautiful storytelling and writing style, and the imaginative world. I loved every single page, except for page 553 (369 in the finished copies, I checked) because that one broke me. There are huge plot twists, although I TOTALLY know who Mia's brother is or rather where he is, it's about the only thing I did manage to work out. Having said that..I could still be wrong but STILL. Nevernight will hurt your feels. It will break your heart. But it's a truly fantastic read, and Jay even has a super awesome bookworm in there, lurking in the aisles of the athenaeum (I totally want the athenaeum and a bookworm), there's a tonne of originality in the book and it's just a brilliant read. Truly. READ IT NOW! I promise you won't regret it, and all of us are here for you when you hit THAT page.
"The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us."