Review: DARKDAWN by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Page Count: 475
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Series: THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLES, Book 3
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars – Really Liked It!!

Warning: Spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series.  And if you haven’t read them yet, here are reviews for NEVERNIGHT and GODSGRAVE!

23264672._sy475_After months of planning, Mia’s revenge upon the people responsible for the murder of her family has not gone exactly as she hoped.  While she succeeded at killing one target, Julius Scaeva still lives – and he’s working with the Red Church to end Mia’s life.  In the aftermath, Mia discovers long buried secrets about her family and about the nature of her darkin abilities.  With her former mentor, Mercurio, in the hands of the Red Church, Mia races to save him – but destiny has a plan for Mia, one that will forever alter the balance of power, not just in the Republic, but amongst the gods themselves.

There are many elements of the plot of DARKDAWN that I’ve kept vague or left out altogether from my recap, because this book is all about the reveals.  After two installments that largely dance around the issue of darkin, we are FINALLY getting all the answers you’ve ever asked about what’s up with her shadow magic, the suns, Mia’s visions, and more.  While the answers were satisfying, and I love the ultimate trajectory of the finale, I did find myself wishing things had been spread out a little more over the course of the trilogy, instead of jammed into the final book. Still, better late than never!

But no matter how good the plotting is, you don’t get over four stars in my ratings if you don’t make me FEEL something, and that is an objective DARKDAWN had absolutely no problem accomplishing.  It’s rare that a book sees me reading the final 100+ pages through a haze of tears, but the final book in THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLES completely wrecked me.  And that happened not simply because of the body count, which I had braced myself for, but because of the raw emotions at play.  Mia Corvere has always been someone who wears her heart on her sleeve and let’s her heart rule her head – this series began with her eleven-years-old and swearing bloody vengeance on the man who killed her family, a promise she actually committed to for the next eight years.

What’s changed is that, over the course of the series, Mia has allowed her guard to come down. Where before she vowed to view others as expendable and merely as pawns, she’s finally come to see them (and her love for them) as her strength.  Which unfortunately means that each loss hits that much closer to home, and affects Mia (and the reader) that much more.  Kristoff also succeeded in making the final battles both epic and personal, and the finale ends with the emotional weight of a sledgehammer both tragic and beautiful.

I also need to give a shout out to Scaeva, a villain who largely remained off the page for the duration of the trilogy, always the distant objective instead of the immediate threat.  Scaeva is, in my opinion, one of the best kind of antagonists: the kind that makes perfectly sound, logical rationalizations for why he should be allowed world domination.  Cruel bastard he may be, but he’s one that manages to present his machinations as the best route possible for everyone involved.

I had a few quibbles with this last book, minor in the grand scheme of things, and definitely things that I bumped against purely out of personal preference.  The first was a metalayer added to the last book that I had mixed feelings about.  The second was we get a love triangle this time around, one of my least favorite tropes in any media.  Thankfully, this particular triangle managed to pay off in the end, and in hindsight I feel much less negatively towards it, but it was a small annoyance at the time.

None of these stop the truly epic feel of the second half of the book in particular.   After some necessary lore dumping and a particularly audacious face off with a pirate king (in one of the most memorable scenes of the series), the plot plunges into wrapping up all the confrontations that have been building over the trilogy.  It’s the winner-take-all battle you’ve been waiting for, with a truly cinematic last stand.  In short, if you’ve been in love with THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLES up to this point, you’ll be well rewarded in this final conclusion.

 

10 thoughts on “Review: DARKDAWN by Jay Kristoff

Add yours

  1. I don’t mind love triangles at all, they’re kind of my jam, but it felt sooooo unnecessary here! Having that love triangle was probably my biggest pet peeve of the book. There were some really great moments in this one where Mia is being her badass self, but something about the very end left me a little ‘meh’. Really glad you loved this one though! It was such a fun series and I’m sad it’s over.

    Liked by 1 person

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