Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – Bloodbaths, F-Bombs, and Sex

NevernightNevernight by Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
Published by: Harper Voyager on August 11, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Pages: 643
Source: ARC From Publisher
Book Details
Rating: ★★★★

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

Massive thanks to Harper Voyager UK for providing me with an advanced reading copy! ♥

Things I Loved

An adult fantasy book

I loved the fact that Nevernight was an adult book. Sure, the main character is a “young adult”, but I wouldn’t class the book as such. It’s definitely an adult book with a young main character.

  • There are f-bombs, c-bombs, and more.
  • There are extremely detailed sex scenes.
  • And of course, gruesome murders.

This book is graphic and vulgar. But that’s one of the things I liked most about it. It really cut through all the bullshit, restraint, and filters that are often in YA. (I love YA, don’t get me wrong, but there’s also a lot filtering, fade to black, etc.)

These assassins don’t play nice

It’s not uncommon to pick up an assassin book and then never have anything interesting happen. No murders. No brutality. Just a few clean fights.

But Jay Kristoff had no problem killing people in Nevernight.

  • There are plenty of murders.
  • No mercy.
  • Plenty of gore. Things got messy.

Nevernight doesn’t sugarcoat the life of an assassin. PEOPLE DIE. IN THEIR SHIT AND VOMIT.

Boarding school

Like Hogwarts for assassins? Sure.

I loved the boarding school set up. Dormitories, “professors”, no wandering the halls after hours, classes on how to fight, poison, steal, and seduce… It’s just an environment that I always enjoy in a book!

Mia + Shadows

Mia has some kind of shadow power/gift. She can kind of control or manipulate the shadows. It’s a really cool part of the book. It’s still a bit of a mystery in Nevernight, but will clearly be explored further later in the series.

It’s so quotable

Every other line in Nevernight is something I was itching to tweet about or quote on Goodreads. The book is so beautifully written. Here are a few of my favourites:

“People often shit themselves when they die, did you know that?”


“The last thing you will ever be in this world, girl, is someone’s hero. But you will be a girl heroes fear.”

“‘Never flinch.’ A cold whisper in her ear. ‘Never fear. And never, ever forget.'”

“Iron or glass they’d asked? Mia clenched her jaw. Shook her head. She was neither. She was steel.”

“Hmm. I appear to have misplaced the fuck I was about to give for what you think.”

“your brain and ovaries seem to have switched places.”

“The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.”

“The dark around them was not only angry. It was hungry.”

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (UK cover)

Things I Didn’t Like

Throughout the book there are footnotes that provide more detail on people, objects, or events that are mentioned in the normal story. At first I quite liked these. They were interesting and sometimes just kind of funny. But as the book went on, I found myself skipping them most of the time.

  • They didn’t feel necessary to the story (though I guess that’s a given since they’re footnotes).
  • I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not reading them.
  • I think they just offered more detail than I was interested in.

This book is long and the footnotes just made it feel even longer. Plus some of the footnotes are several paragraphs and go into extreme detail in a way that didn’t really add to the story.

The footnotes were an interesting addition, but I lost interest and patience with them after a while.

Footnote in Nevernight about a man having sex with a giantess

Although I liked the book, I wasn’t as addicted as I would have liked.

It took me about twelve days to read Nevernight. The biggest thing that says to me is that while I liked the book, I wouldn’t say I ever got hooked or addicted (until maybe the very end). I was happy to keep reading, but I never felt like I NEEDED to keep reading, you know? I didn’t really think about the book when I wasn’t reading it.

I liked it a lot, but I think for me it was missing a little X factor that would have really kept me hooked and felt inclined to give it a five-star rating. But despite that, I fully expect Nevernight to be a five-star book for pleeeenty of other readers. It truly is a fabulous book!

The Verdict


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  1. What age range would you recommend this book for? I was thinking of recommending it to a freshman aged friend (she can handle mature scenes) but I was wondering if this is like 50 shades of grey/Game of thrones or not as much?

    1. I wouldn’t line it up with Fifty Shades. That’s erotica, whereas despise the detailed scenes here, I wouldn’t personally classify Nevernight as erotica. There are two or three sex scenes, so not a ton and they’re not the focus of the book. I personally think a freshman would be fine with it.

      Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses/Mist and Fury? Those books also get a little more detailed in sex scenes than you typically see in YA. I’d probably compare it to those. Maybe a tad more explicit, but only because the writing and narrative is a bit more vulgar in general.

      1. Thanks for the advice! My friend has read ACOTAR and ACOMAF, so she should be ok with this! 🙂

  2. I’m so excited for this. Probably disturbingly so hhahaha. ? ahem. I heard there was a lot of debacle about this being YA? But then I heard that it is most definitely adult, so I don’t even know. I just know I neeeed it in my life. I’ve also heard literally everyone say that the footnotes were boring and skippable, hehe. I probably will be skipping them too because I am a fast reader and generally don’t let to get bogged down in tons of details.
    An entirely fabulous review, Ashley. 😀

    1. Eh people can debate all day about whether it’s YA or adult. But:

      1) If I remember rightly, Harper Voyager called it “Adult” in the letter they sent me with the book.

      2) It’s listed under Books > Fiction > Erotica on Amazon. (I’m not sure I’d personally classify this as erotica. I’ve read erotica and this book isn’t quite like that. I guess I just see erotica as books were the sex is the focus, and here’s it’s not. But whatevs.)

      Again, people can argue forever about whether or not it’s YA. I just ask myself: is this typically something we see in stuff that’s labelled “YA”? And the answer is honestly no.

      The YA we usually see doesn’t have detailed sex scenes. They may imply that sex happened, but usually there’s a fade to black.

      The YA we usually see doesn’t have this detailed level of violence. There may be killing, but it doesn’t go into as explicit terms.

      So bundle all those together and I personally call it “Adult”. Especially if my memory is serving me correct and the actual publisher called it adult as well.

      Of course that doesn’t mean that young adults can’t read the book!

      Anyway I hope you like it Cait!

  3. I am too anal retentive to skip footnotes and I wish I wasn’t! I did like these most of the time – I think I’d have liked them more if the eARC formatting hadn’t been wonky. I do agree they got a bit long though. The snark in this book just cracked me up – I loved Mia.

    Amanda recently posted: Review: June
    1. Ohh I can totally imagine the eARC being weird. 🙁 Some books just really aren’t meant for ebook format (Illuminae being another!).

    2. Hi thanks for this great review! I wanted to say that if you still have the arc I would love to trade for it. I have several 2020 arcs and unicorns! Love your post and blog!

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with just about everything you said about this book. There were parts of it that I LOVED, but then it also dragged a bit for me – it took me a long time to read as well. I also agree that this was definitely an adult book. Some people have called it YA, but I don’t think the age of the main characters is the only factor for that.

  5. I just finished reading this earlier tonight…and I have to admit that I loved the whole boarding school route that it took, as it provided more of a sense of isolation for Mia and allowed you to sympathise with her a bit more. I will also admit that the footnotes had a tendency to be annoying – it’s like the narrator; who was it BTW; was trying to keep the listener from interrupting the story…IDK. I think my favorite overall part of the story was when Mia told Trick that what made him was on the inside, and that it didn’t matter if Marielle took away his tattoos…also, how creepy were her and her brother? Ew. I’m definitely going to have to read the rest of the books in the series…mainly because I want to know what happens to Mia.

  6. Hey. I fell in love with Nevernight. And now I cannot find anything quite like it.
    It probably sounds hilarious but I need a recommendation; Something that can satiate the thirst which Nevernight still left in me.
    Got any ideas?

  7. I really enjoyed the footnotes, actually, but I suppose that’s a personal preference. I liked the world building and got a kick out of the snarky, dark humour. Also the foreshadowing that I suspect will turn up in later books.

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