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Going To The Red Church And We’re Gonna Get Sta-a-abby

Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight is a brutal but beautiful read. And you might even laugh a time or three.

Going To The Red Church And We’re Gonna Get Sta-a-abby

BOOK REPORT for Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

Cover Story: Checks the Right Boxes
BFF Charm: Confused
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Puts the A in YA
Bonus Factors: Book Love, Loyal “Pet”
Factor: Violence
Relationship Status: Heavy Breathing

Cover Story: Checks the Right Boxes

Fantastical? Check. Ominous? Check. Shadows? Check. Bloody? Check. This cover checks all the right boxes in giving readers a hint as to what’s to come inside.

But the UK cover, oh the UK cover. (The part of me that judges books by their covers—we all do it, no shade—is super happy that I received an e-ARC to review, so now I can buy a physical UK edition to grace my bookshelves.)

The Deal:

When Mia Corvere was 10 years old, she watched as her father was hung as a traitor, could do nothing as her mother and little brother got taken away to prison, and barely escaped death at the hands of a menacing soldier. Most little girls would be broken by such events, but not Mia—Mia was hardened and strengthened with a lust for vengeance.

Now 16, Mia is off to become a deadly assassin as an acolyte of The Red Church and learn the skills it’ll take to kill the men responsible for the ruination of her family.

… If she can survive that long.

BFF Charm: Confused

Do I like Mia? I know that she’s a loyal, smart, dedicated individual. All great qualities in a BFF contender. However, she’s loyal to a group of deadly assassins, smart about how to use poisons and where to stick a dagger to make it hurt most, and dedicated to the cause of killing the individuals responsible for destroying her childhood; anyone who gets in her way be damned.

So do I like Mia? Yes, definitely. But also, no, because she’s scary as hell.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

I sometimes struggle with deciding on a rating for Swoonworthy Scale, especially with books like Nevernight, in which the actual feelings involved in a relationship are really lacking, but there’s some hardcore sexytimes action. It’s a balancing act, and Mia’s relationship(s) in Nevernight don’t quite tip the scales in the right direction. (But I do appreciate that one of them is described as looking pretty much exactly like Bob Morley.)

Talky Talk: Puts the A in YA

Y’all—Nevernight is brutal. Jay Kristoff pulls absolutely no punches when writing about the horrific events of Mia’s youth and the violence of her assassin training. (We’re talking Song of Ice and Fire levels of blood and the lack of being able to assume that anyone will make it out alive.) Kristoff also doesn’t pull punches with language—lots of fucks and even a few C-words*—which can be somewhat jarring for those of us with sensitive ears/eyes.**

And yet, Nevernight is easy to get swept away in. Kristoff’s language is colorful and descriptive, and the world in which he set the book is beautiful in its brutality; it’s a place that rarely sees true darkness thanks to three suns with a culture that's steeped in mysticism and polytheism. The book is also surprisingly tongue-in-cheek—I laughed out loud more than once—amidst all the darkness. An example:

And last, the language of cats. O, yes, cats speak, gentlefriend, doubt it not—if you own more than one and can’t see them at this particular moment, chances are they’re off in a corner somewhere lamenting the fact that their owner seems to spend all their time reading silly books rather than paying them the attention they so richly deserve.

*Yes, I know that this word isn’t as rude in non-U.S. countries, but I’m a born-and-bred ‘merican, so I’m going to keep calling it the C-word.
**Not me, specifically, but I’m looking out for you guys.

Bonus Factor: Book Love

One more check in the pro column for Mia is how much she loves books.

“But,” the old man said, looking her up and down. “You’ve got the look of a girl who’s no stranger to the page. I can tell. You’ve got words in your soul.”

I like to think I have words in my soul, too.

Bonus Factor: Loyal “Pet”

The “pet” in question reminded me both of Taggle from Erin Bow’s Plain Kate and Mogget from Garth Nix’s Sabriel, but with its own unique and very mysterious qualities.

Factor: Violence

There is A LOT of blood in Nevernight. (But, like I said in Talky Talk, it really works in this setting.)

Casting Call:

Anna Akana as Mia

Relationship Status: Heavy Breathing

You didn’t make it easy for me, Book, but I came out of our first meeting intrigued—and wanting more. So when are we getting together again? I’ll make sure to buy a heavy duty poncho in preparation.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Dunne Books, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Nevernight is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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