Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 3 stars Series: Yes - second book of trilogy
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for NEVERNIGHT*
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I almost DNF’ed this book.
The only reason I didn’t was that I got chatting to a Harper Voyager publicist at YALC about it and why I was struggling. She encouraged me to keep going, saying that once Mia entered the arena I’d find it more interesting. Thanks to her, I kept going, and did enjoy the second half far more.
The beginning was a slog, a constant battle to get page to page. Part of me wondered why I was reading, as I was having all the same issues I’d had with NEVERNIGHT, but minus the pacing and enthralling story.
It was the constant flashbacks, the first half or the chapter in italics. Flipping between two timelines didn’t add anything other than confusion and frustration. I had to hold two stories in my head – a duller ‘present’ timeline, that was only so dull because I wasn’t invested in the why. I understood Mia’s motivations, but the specifics of why this nutty plan isn’t explained until the end of the ‘past’ timeline.
I would have much preferred a linear story, and I think that would have been far less of a fight to read. Certainly, once the ‘past’ was dealt with, and it was only ‘present’ being told, I found it much easier.
After the start, it becomes fun, stuffed full of edge-of-your-seat arena fights. If I hadn’t enjoyed that, it would have been game over. However, it was pacy and pulled me along during the long YALC queues. The characters are great, again. The new cast of gladitorii are hard to predict exactly how they’ll end (die or survive) and how they’ll react to Mia.
The mystery about the darkin and godsgrave and the world is still there, quietly chugging away in the background. I’d have liked a bit more, but it’s not the core of the story. It’s more focused on the blood, gore and sex.
The big revelation might change Mia’s world, but it comes very early on, and then doesn’t seem to be dealt with. It’s midway through the ‘past’ story line, and kicks off the ‘present’, but doesn’t have an impact beyond that.
I’ll probably read the finale, DARKDAWN, because I’m curious how it ends, and about the mystery of the darkin. But not this September. I’ll wait for paperback next year and hope it has less flashbacks.
Read my reviews of other books by Jay Kristoff
Nevernight (this series):
Books co-written with Amie Kaufman
The Illuminae files:
The Aurora Cycle: