Book Review: Darkdawn
Book reviews

Darkdawn – Jay Kristoff

Release date: 3 September 2019
Goodreads link
Book Depository link
Rating1.5 stars

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) blurb:

The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic.

Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic.

But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time.

Can Mia survive in a world where even daylight must die?

Book 1: Nevernight
Book 2: GodsgraveParagraph divider
Oh. My. God. I cannot believe it’s over. This series has been FOUR years in the making. It has spawned fan art, funkos, tattoos, candles, and half of my pin collection. But mostly, I can’t believe this was the ending that we got.

I, just like most people who read this series, was addicted. And it was basically the most unbelievable ending I could have imagined for it. In fact, it was so unbelievable, it was nothing that I could ever have imagined. And I was taking pot-shot guesses as Jay kept running around yelling* “MIA DOESN’T SURVIVE. IT’S NOT A SPOILER.”

Screenshot of Jay Kristoff's tweet prior to the Darkdawn release where someone has tagged him in a tweet saying
Jay tweeting about Mia’s death

The Good

So… The book picks up immediately after the end of Godsgrave, and we are reintroduced to some old characters, and of course we meet some new ones. While Mia’s friends and family from previous books make appearances throughout, but I must say my favourite characters in this book were Cloud and BigJon. Despite being your almost classic pirate type tropes, they definitely stole the show in their scenes.

But mostly what I loved in this are FREAKING SPOILERS. In fact, 60% of this review is going to end up in that section. Nevertheless, I will attempt to continue.

Here’s one thing – the vengeance deaths are my favourite part. There’s a poison scene that’s probably my fave death, and some characters that return which I love. Also, super bloodthirsty!

As per usual, the world building is a class act. Kristoff weaves his own kind of magic that never leaves you wanting. The footnotes seem to be controversial, but it’s addressed in the book itself. “What?” I hear you say. Oh yes, gentlefriends, get ready for some Deadpool-esque fourth wall breaking. It’s actually quite impressive (a bit wankery, but impressive).

Deadpool talking to the camera, narrating.
Deadpool is the narrator?!

The Bad

So why is this only 1.5 stars? Well Gentlefriends, if you have read the ending and want to see my thoughts on that finish, feel free to click below.  Please note that I am NOT RECOMMENDING this for those of you who haven’t read the books! Read the spoiler section at your own peril.

However, let’s talk about some non-spoilery things first.

The pacing in this book is mildly out of control. There are parts that drag (like an entire Part), and then there’s sections that are happening so quickly it’s kind of difficult to tell what is actually happening.

There were also some plot twists that I thought were from so far left field that they didn’t really make sense in the grand scheme of things. In saying that, there were also a couple of small things that I thought were predictable, but there was enough of a mix of “yup, picked that”, “oh, didn’t see that coming” to “what the actual f***? Did I skip three chapters?” that while it wasn’t super balanced, it wasn’t critically awful either. It just wasn’t great.

The characters… Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like so many of the characters changed their abjectly strong motivations on what felt like a whim in this book. I understand why it was done (plot reasons and to build tension, etc.) but I didn’t find it believable. In fact, it felt so wrong, it ended up changing my entire opinion about the character. Which I hated.

The Recommendation

Look, I’m NOT going to tell you to not read this series, because I LOVED books 1 and 2, and I am in the outliers for book 3 feelings. Like, 100% this is a VERY unpopular opinion. However, don’t believe all the end-of-the-world hype that surrounded this. That’s my only advice for you, and I sincerely hope you DO enjoy this.

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So… that ending… was unexpected.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting a more dire ending for our girl. Especially after I heard Jay speak at the Melbourne book launch. In fact, what he said was:

I wrote three different endings for this story, and this one was the least depressing.

Which, valid, because this ending was not even slightly depressing. It had the very thing Jay said it wouldn’t have: a Happily Ever After.

But seriously, the way he spoke after that made me think “oh gawd… we are REALLY in for it.” But, it was sappy?! Now, it’s entirely possible that I just have a very black and withered heart, or that I was expecting SUCH a horrid ending (like, with Mia not bringing back the Moon, not ending Scaeva, and possibly Jonnen killing her) that the niceness of the ending threw me. Also, all of Jay’s yelling about Mia not getting her ‘happily ever after’ meant that at the end of the series, I thought the best case scenario would be Mia sitting hearthside with Tricky. Not basically living as an immortal with her true love by her side, in the family home, never aging with a pet cat. So, I guess you could say that I was a touch disappointed. I didn’t even cry.

However, I will say that I think Mia did get what she deserved, which was a hero’s ending. Appropriate for a true hero like her. Just, not what was promised.

Other points (I’ll try and keep this brief):

  1. Mister Kindly was a shit. He could have totally stayed with Mia the whole time and still helped her at the end. I know why Jay did it. But I don’t think he would have ever left Mia, even if he thought it was in her best interests. Soz, not accepting that.
  2. Yay Tricky came back! I loved that! Here’s what I didn’t love: He forgave Ashlinn, and then NO ONE ELSE STAYED DEAD. *cough* Ashlinn *cough* I mean, if you’re just going to bring the whole fucking cast back, then there’s no point to the dying. At all. In a story about assassins. Which made my fave part redundant.
  3. Speaking of favourite parts, I cheered when Ashlinn died. I don’t like her. I don’t think she deserved Mia, she was a bitch to Mister K the whole time, and she antagonised the relationship between MK and Eclipse. Also, she fucking KILLED TRIC (and I hold grudges). So go you, Spiderkiller. (But also, suck it, Spiderkiller.)
  4. Adonai – I don’t know how I feel about his death. I thought he could have been saved, but I guess since so many other people were coming back from death some people had to die and actually stay dead. Rude.
  5. Also, I’m pissed about Eclipse too. That felt unnecessary.
  6. And burning the library down.
  7. TBH it felt like we were just adding more characters so they could die. The Gladiatii from Godsgrave deserved waaaaay fucking better than what they got. That hurt. (but it was an acceptable hurt, because I was expecting a lot of death and destruction).
  8. I still don’t really understand what happened with Scaeva. Like, I know what happened, but the fight felt all over the place, and then they both… died?
  9. Adding more to my confusion (and apologies in advance for this giant rambling point), but even though we knew that religion played a big part in this (and the three eyes of Aa felt very “father, son and holy spirit” like), the whole disowning your son because of jealousy and “killing him” and taking away the mother’s power – I guess I just still don’t understand how Mia putting the shadows back together when there would have been less of them, plus the bones were hollowed out because people lived in them, etc. – so how did the son become so powerful he then tried to blind Aa? It’s not like it was a surprise attack. They had a whole conversation first. Like, did I miss a plot point here? Was it really explained? Or was it just because it was Truenight (or Truedark or whatever it was called) so the Mother got more power? And also, the son listened to Mia? Is she a secret goddess? The whole ending part was confusing.
  10. Finally, I am very disappointed that Bastard didn’t make an appearance.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Honestly, I think I would have preferred a less sappy ending, and

* I mean, not literally running around screaming. But he was posting about it on Twitter and Instagram A LOT.

Until next time, happy reading. Love Meegs x


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