In a land where the three suns keep darkness at bay, there’s a girl with a shadow darker than it should be. After her father is executed and her mother thrown into the deepest, darkest jail cell, Mia Corvere finds herself, not quite, alone and somehow not quite as afraid as she should be. Taken in by Mercurio, she is tutored in the ways of the Red Church, an elite organisation of assassins. In order to become a Blade, and enact the revenge she so desires, she must first find the school and pass its difficult and cruel tests.

The brighter the light, the deeper the shadows…

A few people told me Nevernight was like Harry Potter with assassins, and frankly, that kind of put me off for a while. But never fear, I did give it a go and they were wrong and I loved it! Well, there’s a tiny bit that could be Harry Potter-like if you hadn’t grown up with other boarding school stories as a reference point.

The story is rich with world-building and there is so much mileage in this world. It took me a while to understand that it was switching between two versions of Mia but this soon became clear. Additional information is included in footnotes (much in the style of Discworld) but if you find these an annoying distraction you can easily skip them and not miss anything crucial to the plot or characters.

But though they were still mostly strangers, she knew one thing about every acolyte around her. Murderers, all.

Mr Kindly is a shadow creature who appears as a cat with no eyes. It is implied that the Darkin are something to be feared so I love that he has such a benevolent name. Actually, throughout the book, there is very little to suggest that Darkin are in fact evil, other than the, most probably evil, followers of the light don’t like them.

Back to this school of assassins then. I liked that so much of the books revolves around Mia’s backstory and also that it is a huge trial just finding the school. Mia must prove herself again and again, and sometimes she must prove that she is heartless. She finds little kindness in the masters, who want to hone her into one of the finest and detached killing machines. Yet sometimes compassion comes from the most unexpected places.

Mia reached out and took hold of the shadows about her. Thread by thread, she drew the darkness to her with clever fingers, like a seamstress weaving a cloak, a cloak over which unwary eyes might lose their way.

I cannot wait for the next book, it’s such a multi-layered fantasy and not as grimdark as it might seem at first. Yes, there is sex and swearing, and even the more complex language used means this is definitely not a book aimed for younger teens.

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Book Source: Illumicrate