By the ‘byss, this was O, so good! Idk if it’s because I went into it with a neutral attitude, seeing mixed opinions amongst my friends, or what. But man, this one caught me by surprise.
Shadows and crows just seem to fit together really well. This, at it’s core, is your typical revenge story, with a not so typical execution (see what I did there?). We start out the story with Mia’s father being executed for being behind trying to start a rebellion. Things quickly go downhill from there. Mia evades an attempt on her life by gathering her shadow about her for the first time. From there she runs into her Shaiid (mentor) named Mercurio who trains her up as much as he’s able to to get her prepared to train at the infamous school of assassins under the even more infamous Red Church.
Nevernight has cemented it’s place among my favorites in so far as books where the protagonist trains at a school. It was just done so well, in my opinion. Aside from Harry Potter, this is the only book where I wasn’t bored a single time during her training. It’s hard to make schooling/training interesting and Kristoff does it so well. Maybe because all the areas they train in are interesting? We’ve got Song (combat), Truth (poisons), Pockets (thieving), and Masks (manipulation/seduction). The only one that didn’t really interest me was Pockets, but it wasn’t really touched upon much.
The most common complaint I’ve seen was that his prose was overly flowery. This is a valid complaint, as there were times, in the beginning, that it felt like too much. But it wasn’t often enough to bug me. Which was strange because that kind of prose is something that I usually hate. But it is pretty much nonexistent after the 25ish% mark.
The pacing was something that I thought was done extremely well. Like I said above, I can’t remember a single time that I was bored. It’s not a book that’s overflowing with action, but he does a great job of creating interesting moments out of the most mundane things. My favorite was, by far, poison class. The tension was always high when they’d step through that door. Another thing I loved was that the teachers weren’t afraid to hurt, or even mortally wound their students. It’s definitely not a school for the tender hearted.
O, the characters. Once again, we get an awesome female protagonist. The banter between her and Mr. Kindly was O, so much fun. Actually, the banter between all of the characters was a delight. I can’t really think of any of the characters that I disliked. Well, I can think of many – it is a school of assassins – but i can’t think of any I disliked due to poor writing.
One of the things I did dislike was the footnotes. Well, i liked them but I didn’t like how they’re set up. I’m not sure how they’re set up on the physical version of the book, but in the ebook they’re all the way in the back. Each one is on a different page, so trying to keep up with them was a nightmare. One of my favorite books, Beat the Reaper, had footnotes and they were on the bottom of the page and I absolutely loved them. So, hopefully the physical version of the book is set up like that because I think they add an awesome element but, sadly, they’re not done so well for the ebook – and I’m not sure if they even could be done any other way. But I thought it worth mentioning.
Also, I’ve heard it mentioned- possibly mistakenly – that this is YA. Which, unfortunately, comes with a lot of stigmas. But even if you hate YA, I’d say give this one a shot. It’s got plenty of blood and gore and sex (not really sure how this would be considered YA).
If you haven’t read this one yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. The sequel comes out soon! And you just might be as surprised as I am at how much you underestimated this book. Or you might just hate it. There’s only one way to tell.