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Book Review

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Darkdawn (Hardback)


Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Harper Voyager
481 pages
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 818008 9
Publication Date: 05 September 2019

Mia, seeking revenge for the murder of both her mother and father, had joined the gladiatorial games intent on killing Julius Scaeva, the consul who gave the order. With her ability to hide herself in shadow, her skill as an assassin and her blade which will cut through any armour, she succeeds in her mission. Or so she thinks...

Darkdawn (2019. 481 pages) is the third and final book in The Nevernight Chronicle, written by Jay Kristoff.

If you have not read the first two novels, and I urge you to do so, the story follows Mia Corvere’s journey of revenge. We have followed her through her education as a trained assassin in the Red Church and her sudden fall from grace, following the murder of her parents.

Most authors would approach the last novel of a trilogy as a way of wrapping up their story, but Kristoff throws so many new ideas in, that it completely reinvigorates the narrative. Dark secrets about Mia’s past are revealed which complicates her relationships and her new found brother is less than happy to be dragged half way across a continent by the girl who tried to kill the only father he had ever known.

Kristoff also takes the time to not only introduce new characters, expand the world building but finally we get to learn what the shadow creature is that has attached itself to Mia and how this expands her conflict from one of simple revenge to a war between gods.

There are some interesting themes going on in the story. Having failed to kill the real Scaeva, she finally meets him face to face. Rather than immediately kill her, he offers to let her back into the fold of the family, the story has a little The Empire Strikes Back moment before Mia is on the run with her younger brother, Jonnen. Jonnen barely remembers who Mia is, initially he acts like he has been kidnapped by his father's would be killer, which he has. Jonnen acts like a mirror to just how far Mia will go to get what she thinks is right. He reflects back to her that, in many ways, she is not unlike Scaeva, with both of them willing to murder and to justify their actions.

The book has mainly two strands. On the one hand we have Mia, her lover Ashlinn, her brother, as well as an old friend returned from the grave, setting out on a fairly standard quest journey. This consists of the bulk of the book. The B roll concerns the fate of the mcguffin Mercurio, Mia’s old mentor.

In theory this is where the heroic, if dysfunctional quad are heading, to release Mercurio from his imprisonment, but this is also where much of the new information dump happens in the form of the keeper of the library. He is a creature of many secrets and the library is likewise bizarre. At one point the characters within the book start to read the actual first two books of this series.

Kristoff’s style of writing continue to display his desire to be part of the narrative by placing footnotes to the main text, which are, for the most part, amusing. Comedy being very subjective, I leave it up to the individual reader to decide if they add to the overall experience or act as a distraction. Personally, I found that both were true.

I thought it a perfectly acceptable ending to the trilogy. Many buckles were swashed, much that was hidden was revealed and the whole thing was brought to a suitably climactic ending.


Charles Packer

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