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Nevernight    by Jay Kristoff order for
by Jay Kristoff
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I don't often come across a brilliant new fantasy trilogy, but here's one opener I just read, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (who has written 5 previous books that I missed and now must track down). It's George R. R. Martin dark, but extremely compelling and very well written.

Young aristocratic heroine Mia Corvere seeks vengeance against her family's killers. Her father was executed for treason against the Itreyan Republic, and her mother and baby brother imprisoned in the deadly Philosopher's Stone prison. She was meant to be killed, on the consul's orders, but managed to escape and find her way to Old Mercurio, a retired killer who prepared her for entrance to the Red Church, a mysterious school for assassins. She trained hard with him and her first murder was her father's hangman. She has a long list.

Soon after the novel opens, Mia takes ship from Godsgrave to the ruined port, Last Hope. There she encounters a youth, Tric, who is also seeking entrance to the Red Church. They journey through the desert, barely surviving sand krakens, and finally reach the Church. The testing and training there makes Harry Potter's time at Hogwarts seem like a total breeze, with students dying at every turn. It helps that Mia is a darkin and has a (rather possessive) sentient shadow to do her bidding. She finds friends and enemies among her fellow students, but which is which?

Though she is one of the few students who survive, there is one final test required for initiation in the Red Church, an impossible one. Soon afterwards, the end of this first episode sneaks up and ambushes Mia - and readers, who will be dying for more. Nevernight is a spectacular opening to an extraordinary new fantasy series. Highly recommended!

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