Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.
Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?
SPOILER FREE book musings ahead....
This book kind of expanded my mind grapes. I never knew YA as a genre could be pushed this far. I had no idea that a book like this could be classed as YA and yet not hold back at any point.
And I love it. I LOVE it.
Reading this book was so utterly exciting to me as it has kind of changed my mind on what can and cannot be included in a YA novel. Because it taught me you can go waaaaaaay further than I ever expected when writing dark, gritty content within YA.
To give you an idea, I’m talking about detailed descriptions of murder, violence and sex (isn’t it so strange that sex is lumped in with murder as a bad thing not to be described too graphically in books? Weird.) and more swearing than I’ve ever seen in YA before, like there is a page in this book where the word ‘cunt‘ is used 7 times in one conversation.
This book feels absolutely so fresh and exciting, though it has occurred to me that it is literally ‘Game of Thrones’ (one GOT character’s exact storyline to be specific – if you’ve read both you should know what I’m talking about here) crossed with major Hogwarts vibes (if the teachers in ‘Harry Potter’ murdered their students on a moderately frequent basis).
Yet this book never feels like a rehash of stories that have been told before, no way, it is exciting and unexpected and ....big. The world is massive, the history, the religions and culture, the characters and their motivations, all of it feels huge, like we as a reader are only glancing inside at one single facet of a huge story that extends far beyond what is described on each page.
And that is my absolute favourite type of world building in storytelling.
When a writer makes their world feel like a real place, that has existed long before us as a reader (or watcher) ever arrived and will exist long after this particular story has ended. That kind of world-building is one of the main reasons I love ‘Star Wars’ so much, because a world where a story is set should always feel so much more massive than just that single story.
And in ‘NeverNight’ it really does.
I really liked Mia. A lot.
She swears like a sailor, murders like a...well... assassin (duh), is vicious and pitiless and HARDCORE, and yet remains a person with many facets and complexities. She thinks about what murder means, it doesn’t always stop her, but she is never blind to the true consequences of her actions. Things with Mia are never simply black and white, both within her thoughts and opinions of her position within her world and her motivations and goals, and within her own actions. Sometimes she goes far far far, and other times she holds back and has empathy.
She is a fully rounded character, and truly exists within the world created by this author for her, her morals and hopes and dreams suiting the times she has been born into.
There is nothing worse than a character who lives in a terribly dark world filled with murder on a daily basis, and yet somehow has a truly modern sense of morality – we are all products of our environment after all. Our moralities relate directly to the world we live in, and if you and I lived in medieval times and watched executions for fun, we couldn’t help but re-shape our morals around that time period we existed within. So I loved that Mia exists within her time, and she is deliciously complex.
She was pretty great.
I liked this too. I liked that sex was used as a natural progression of a relationship, that it was a big deal but it also wasn’t.
I liked the way the relationship is formed very effortlessly, from trust to friendship to attraction/lust to something more, without ever taking focus away from the plot or the true purpose of the novel. This aspect of the story never got in the way of either character’s motivations and despite what lay between them they never once compromised their own beliefs for the sake of a relationship.
I think that is what keeps a love story within a book like this away from being cheesy. The characters remain themselves, there is no point where they will give up everything for the other, but they also do have something real going on, and I liked that too.
A good, slow burning and natural relationship, no insta-love, no fantasy fate-binding world shattering live or die for only eachother instant connection ‘somehow I just know’ or ‘most beautiful boy I have ever seen’ kind of stuff.
And I appreciated that.
I kind of want to see this book as a movie. Especially the final set piece of this story. I totally want to see that in live action.
So, I am not gonna lie, I saw a major plot twist in this story coming from a mile away, yet when it did finally hit, it happened in a completely unexpected way, with motivations for character actions also being entirely unexpected and the consequences being entirely unforeseen. So that was great. Really great.
So it is a thumbs up from me for this plot.
And the ending made me extremely intrigued for the next one.....
So to finish up, this book managed to keep me guessing. It managed to surprise me.
Which is pretty cool.
And on top of that I genuinely liked the characters. Sure there are a few characters that are simply there to serve a plot purpose, but on the whole the people within this book were very well realised and fleshed out. I cared about them. And I care about what happens next.
So yeah, I’m well looking forward to reading number two within this series.