Darkdawn by Jay Kirstoff review

‘I am the vengeance of every orphaned daughter, every murdered mother, every bastard son. I am the war you cannot win.’

***Spoliers for both Nevernight and Darkdawn**

Earlier this year before I started this blog I read two little books you may have heard of, Nevernight and Godsgrave. Now that trilogy has come to a conclusion with Darkdawn and I have many feelings. How dare you Jay Kristoff.

Darkdawn is the epic conclusion to the Nevernight Chronicle. Mia Corvere, assassin of the Red Church, gladiatti of the Remus Collegium and outlaw. Mia is on the run from both the Red Church and the Lumiatti after comitting the most epic murder in all of Itreyan history. Mia will have to rely on her wits and trust the power within her is she is to defeat her true nemesis, Julius Scaeva and master the power she has been holding within her all these years to do it.

Spoilers galore for this one since I cannot review this book without discussing the epic plot of previous books or the finale of this so consider this your final warning.

Well now, that was a fucking rollercoaster. Not since I read Morning Star by Pierce Brown have I felt this shook by an ending to a trilogy. Jay Kirstoff really wove in every thread of story that he has been developing since the first book. There is not a single piece of plot that has not been addressed and we finally get to see Mia at her most powerful. We also see the end of Mia Corvere.

The world of Itreya gets bigger and better again. We get to see parts of Godsgrave that should not even exist, for example when Tric brings Mia and Jonnen (yes, both men are alive. While, Tric is debatable) to safety under the city. He brings them to this darkened chamber that has a basin at the centre of it filled with a black liquid. Yeah its a pool of God’s blood. How fucking metal. We take a journey back to the Quiet Mountain in what feels like revisiting the focal points of Mia’s journey from the first and second book. The backwards Hero’s journey really helps to bring the story to a conclusion that feels sad yet satisfactory. We also finally get to see the location at the centre of this famous map that Ashlinn has tattooed on her back and it is worth the payoff.

Mia finally gets to learn about what it is to be Darkin and what the Moon is. Her interactions with her brother felt a bit inconsistent but Jonnen’s reactions were very realistic. I always enjoy Mia’s POV in the books but I was thrilled we got to see some more things from Mercurio’s perspective. Aside from Mia I adore Mercurio and reading him was one of my favourite things about the book. We also get some wonderful new characters like Cloud Corleone, the pirate of too tight pants and fantastic choices of wine. I would happily read a spin off about him alone. Side note, I did not need to see that scene with Adonai (you know what one). Nope. No thanks.

Jay Kirstoff is the master of plot. He is the master of a vicious and entrancing story that will not hold your hand but won’t let you go either. The overall ending to the book and the revelations are nothing short of breathtaking. There comes a point in the plot where we discover the narrator and suddenly the story becomes slightly meta. And being the weirdo I was I loved it. I’m also shook at the narrator. I spoiled that when looking at the ARC at World Con and yeah. I kept it quiet, don’t ask me how.

The ending was wonderful. It was fitting, it wasn’t pretty but it was fitting for the tone of this series. Too many times I have read a book that just won’t go THERE. This is the only way you could have ended this and what Kristoff manages it to add to it without ruining it. That’s a hard thing to do. I cried not gonna lie but I felt like it was the conclusion we deserved.

One of my favourite things we get from Darkdawn is more details about the Gods. Gods and mythology that are unique to a book are my favourite thing and I never get to see enough of it. We get to see more of the Itreyan pantheon and whats really great is they are real Gods. They are selfish, they are violent and do not give a single fuck. Niah, the Lady of Night, is not exactly the motherly patron I imagined her to be. She is a Goddess and more importantly a death Goddess. Mia’s interactions with them is even better. She doesn’t care about their thoughts, their vengeance or anything. She is going to do her and do what she has to do to win her war with Scaeva. It’s a big change up on the whole honoring the Gods and their great plan trope we so often see.

I have never trusted Jay Kristoff from day one. He hurt too many of the people I loved. He is too sneaky with his characters intentions. He looks too much like Dave Grohl. But after reading the entire trilogy within a matter of months I have to admit that I am blown away with his ability to write such a wonderful series and still make me happy it’s ended how it has while also wanting more. Goodnight, gentlefriends. And remember to be the war that noone can win.