(The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

by Jay Kristoff

4.5 stars, actually Ever since I’ve read Stormdancer by Kristoff, I’ve been conflicted. On one hand, undeniably it’s a mythos-soaked adventure read by a tough-as-nails heroine.

We get that here in Nevernight, and there are layers upon layers to the trauma enacted upon our heroine Mia, who trains for years in the city of Godsgrave (the city itself, built within the skeletal ribcage of a fallen giant is almost China Mieville or Tamsyn Muir-like in its rotten imaginative depths) to be worthy enough to crawl through the sand kraken-infested Whisperwastes desert and offer herself as an apprentice assassin to the goddess of the dark.

She’s tough as a thousand nails. Made of titanium and diamonds. And she’s got a not-cat made of shadows who follow her around and makes ascerbic, biting snarky comments.

Kristoff is never one to shy away from blood, bone or sex, and we get all those things here, plus the added delight of almost two thirds of a book dedicated to assassins-in-training school where they must do things like not die just opening their dorm rooms.

It’s exciting, and intricate, and while the short, blocky sentences sometimes clunk things up, at least I”m not conflicted by the comic-book exaggeration of certain Japanese cultural things like in Stormdancer. No, I’m more acutely aware of how Mia feels like a young boy more than a young girl. So half a star for making me a little uncomfortable with Mia as a gender, although the slow reveal of her darkest secret was well done, and the ending to her first/primary vendetta satisfying. Sometimes the tongue-in-cheek footnotes on the pages about such-and-such a custom or historical tidbit were funny, but once the main emotional dilemma of Mia’s training against her friends got started, they felt a bit too flippant, and possibly “amused by his own cleverness” kind of authorial tendence. Still, others might not feel that way. It definitely added a layer of historical weight to the story.

The book leaves much for her to do in terms of finding answers about her shadow affinity. This is a thrilling adventure, but steeped in blood and killing and sex. So, wouldn’t necessarily suggest it for someone under 14.