Here’s my review for the first volume of the Nevernight series which seems to be a fairly popular series at the moment. And I must say that I was seduced by the plot which is a bit original since it involves assassins.
When she was a child, Mia saw the fall of her family with her father being hung and her mother locked up for treason. She barely escaped this tragic fate herself and is since driven by one thing: revenge. Fortunately, an ex-killer decides to train her to help her enter the Red Church, the home of the Republic’s most feared assassins. Even with her ability to master the shadows, Mia will have to overcome the challenges of this place in order to become one of these assassins and achieve her goal.
I opened this book with high expectations given the hype around it and the plot which really, really appealed to me (I love assassins’ stories and especially when the main character is a woman). But even if I didn’t hate the book and pretty much enjoyed it, I didn’t love it either.
First, I was quite disturbed by the colloquial vocabulary but maybe it was the translation in French that was too much in this tone so I will not retain that point against the book. However, what I retain are the very veryyyyy long descriptions made for everything and anything. I understand that descriptions are needed to build the world the author imagined, but too much of them just make the book slow and difficult to follow. The good side of these descriptions being that the world is very well built and you can easily imagine the different places Mia goes in.
Length is also the issue of the footnotes which take sometimes more than the half of the page! It just muted my reading and I ended skipping or barely reading the majority of them. Which is a pity since they contribute to the world-building by telling the reader popular stories or rumours of the Republic or additional information on the places, characters or even the story itself. It’s also the place where the narrative voice is the most present and with a lot of humour and irony, which is pleasant in an overall dark plot.
Concerning the characters, the paradox of the author’s writing style is that he doesn’t describe much the characters whereas this is a moment where the reader wants to read and know more. Because of that, I had difficulties to remember some of them and to connect with them. As a result, I wasn’t moved when one of them died. The only characters I liked were Mia and Mister Kindly. Mia because she remains very strong despite all her past and her fear but also because she is the only one to remain human while not forgetting her goal of revenge. Despite the characters saying to her that she doesn’t belong to the Red Church because of her emotions, I think she belongs to it because of them. Indeed, when the others are becoming mere killers she’s becoming an assassin who does what she has to do but is still capable of making the difference between right and wrong. I really liked Mister Kindly too, not only because he’s a cat but also because of his supportive affection towards Mia and his humour. I don’t really think much of the other characters since they were not very present or I didn’t know them enough to like or dislike them. I just have an opinion on Tric who I think didn’t suited Mia at all. I felt he was there only for the romance side of the plot and I would have preferred no romance but a deep friendship to the shallow relationship he and Mia have.
I enjoyed the story and following the characters through all the steps for becoming an assassin, which forces Mia to grow up. I also enjoyed the story of her past being revealed chapter by chapter (these parts were incorporated to the present time plot very well). I didn’t see the plot twist coming but again, I’m not very good at guessing them unless they are very obvious. I wish Lord Cassius had a bigger role in the volume but maybe he’ll be evoked in the next volume. Another thing that disturbed me while reading was the very precised and detailed descriptions of wounds. I know that this is the author’s bias since the narrative voice warns the reader about it in the prologue, but I thought that it was a bit too much and I didn’t really see the point of doing that.
So, it was overall a good read and I will definitively check the other volumes as soon as possible. However, it remains for an informed public because of some of the descriptions and also detailed sex scenes (which seem to be a must in nowadays novels…)
I gave this book 3/5 stars on Goodreads 🙂
Triggers warnings: violence, explicit description of wounds, physical torture
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