Do you ever just drag on posting your reviews? Because same. I finished Darkdawn in October and reviewed it in December, but am only posting my review now. I think that my meh response to publishing the review on my blog perfectly mirrors my meh feelings about the end of this beloved trilogy (please don’t hurt me!).
2021 Update: While I enjoyed and positively reviewed this book when I originally read it, I no longer support the author or recommend their books, and have unhauled my copies. You can learn more in this video here.
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books | Release Date: September 3, 2019 | Pages: 512
Genre: Adult, Fantasy | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Edelweiss*
The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.
Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?
New York Times and internationally bestselling author Jay Kristoff’s writing has been praised by critics and readers alike and has won many awards, including five Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, and David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards.
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My Review for Darkdawn
Narrative style: third person | Perspective(s): single (omniscient narrator)
“Be assured there will be no cliff-hangers in this, our final dance together. As promised, her birth you’ve witnessed, her life you’ve lived. All that remains is her death.”
In many ways this end to the Nevernight trilogy was both an amazing and lackluster read for me, and it’s taken almost two and a half months for me to sort through my feelings to write this review (thank goodness I am a note-taker!). But regardless this is going to be a difficult book to review due to it being the end of a trilogy. Tread lightly as the review will discuss spoilers from the first two books but is spoiler-free for Darkdawn.
“How do you kill the monster without becoming one yourself?”
There were a lot of threads to weave together in this finale, and Kristoff did a great job of not leaving any loose ends. It was incredibly satisfying to follow Mia’s journey from being a Red Church recruit to seeking her final acts of vengeance. But things aren’t always what they seem and there’s more to uncover…
“We don’t know anything. We know all stories end, whippersnapper. Including hers.”
The narrator’s humor and the fourth-wall (page?) breaking humor with comments about the footnotes never ceased to bring me intense amounts of joy. I adore how meta this book is. And the footnotes! How I adore the footnotes, even though they are a pain in the arse to read!
The love triangle? Oooh boy, it set my soul aflame. Mia is torn between an unresolved love she didn’t choose to move on from and her love of the present. And the tension it causes is palpable, especially because Ashlinn is the one who murdered Tric in the first place.
Honestly, the character relationships are the highlight of this book for me as a reader. Mercurio, Adonai, Tric, Ashlinn; platonic, familial, romantic. The dynamics and intricacies of the relationship dynamics are done expertly well and you can track the development through the trilogy.
Unfortunately, the pacing of the book was uneven for me and I found myself incredibly bored in parts of the book. This is in part because of the worldbuilding style in adult versus young adult fantasy, but this book seemed to drag more than the prior two in the series for some reason. It took me a month and a half to read this book. I was really invested in the characters and learning more about the religious practices of the world (finally!), but reading the book sometimes felt like a chore.
Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the way that Kristoff finished off this beloved series even though I struggled quite a bit. But this brought made me a big sobbing mess at the end, and I am a bit sad that I won’t be able to go on more adventures with this cast of characters.
Content warnings: child slavery, gore, inferred sexual abuse by a priest, loss of a loved one, murder, sex, suicide, violence
Representation: bisexual main character, f/f relationship
Many thanks to St. Martins Press for providing me an electronic ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.* I have since purchased a finished copy of the book.
A spoiler-y section about the ending of the book. Click below only if you have read Darkdawn as discusses the ending of the book.
Click here for my thoughts on the ending:
I saw the ending coming a mile away from early on in this book after reading this line in chapter 3:
“You die once, you might make it back with her blessing. But cross back over the Abyss once more? You’re gone forever.”
Given the fact that Tric was brought back, followed by Ashlinn, I felt very disappointed as a reader, because the danger and stakes didn’t really mean anything. No one stayed dead. Of course Mia would get the Maw’s blessing and her happy ending. She deserved it, but it felt anti-climactic for me and honestly kind of changed my feelings about the ;earlier books. The uneven pacing and lack of real stakes are the two main reasons that the book landed so middle of the road for me.
Other Books by Jay Kristoff
Have you read Darkdawn yet? If so, what did you think about how the trilogy ended – were you satisfied?
Let’s chat all things assassin in the comments!