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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
4.5
Book Name: Godsgrave
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher(s): St. Martin's Press (US) HarperVoyager (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): YA Dark Fantasy
Release Date: September 5, 2017 (US) September 7, 2017 (UK)

“A girl like you has no place in this sort of business.”

“Believe me, Captain,” Mia replied. “You’ve never met a girl like me.”

Jay Kristoff’s Godsgrave, the second book in the Nevernight Chronicles, is not an easy book to review.

This isn’t because the book isn’t outstanding – it is. You should buy it. Right now.

It also isn’t because I can’t decide how I feel about the book. I loved it, and I can’t wait for the third book to be released so I can dive back into the world of Mia Corvere and her quest to avenge her family’s deaths.

No, the greatest challenge in reviewing Godsgrave is trying to talk about this book without giving spoilers away.

If Mr. Kindly were whispering in my ear, he would tell me to go ahead, to risk the ire of the unwashed masses who haven’t yet demonstrated the wisdom to purchase and read this book. He would encourage me to discuss Mia’s surprising new love interest, the multiple plot twists, and that ending, which once again turns the series on its head.

Fortunately, there is no shadow not-a-cat whispering in my ear, and I shall do my best to describe this book without giving anything away.

In Nevernight, Kristoff introduced us to Mia Corvere, the daughter of an executed traitor. With her family dead, Mia’s every decision is motivated by revenge, leading her to the Red Church, where she undergoes the often-deadly training of a Red Church assassin. In my review for Fantasy-Faction, I described this book as a twisted, alternative-universe Harry Potter story in which everyone from the professors to the students is an unrepentant psychopath.

With Godsgrave, Kristoff takes Mia’s story outside the walls of the Red Church and into the wide world beyond. As the book begins, Mia is a full-fledged assassin now, but clearly still has enemies among her peers. It doesn’t take long, however, for Kristoff to take the story in new directions, with fresh revelations that make it clear that Mia has a long way to go – and many more bodies to pile up – before she avenges her family.

In much the way that Mia’s quest took her to the school for assassins in Nevernight, Godsgrave spends much of its time in the world of gladiators, where Mia meets a new class of comrades, and once again finds herself competing to emerge as the best. To be honest, Mia’s new surroundings aren’t as interesting as the assassin’s school, but Kristoff keeps things moving throughout, primarily by providing fresh revelations regarding the political waters Mia is just beginning to wade into, and by taking Mia in different directions than Nevernight ever did. Unsurprisingly, the scenes in the gladiatorial arena are fast-paced and violent. In each battle, Kristoff makes certain to add an interesting twist, so we never see a simple one-on-one battle or anything that Russell Crowe would have faced in a Ridley Scott movie.

Just as Kristoff maintains the breakneck plot pacing from Nevernight, Mia remains a strong female voice. Hardened by the events of her early life and determined to unleash hell upon her enemies, Mia also shows extended moments of vulnerability, giving hint to the fact that while she talks a big game, she isn’t the merciless killing machine that she feels she has to be to succeed in her mission.

Although Nevernight included scenes from Mia’s early childhood, she actually shows softer edges in Godsgrave, from her new romantic relationship to her bubbling doubts about her decisions. Even as Kristoff ratchets up the tension and takes the plot in a direction that shows that Mia has far more enemies than she ever imagined, Mia herself becomes more human. The murderers veneer has begun to fade, and more often the reader is reminded that Mia is just a teenage girl, attempting to take on forces far beyond her years, if not her experience.

While I remain committed to my pledge not to spoil the events of this book for prospective readers, I can say that Kristoff has set things headed toward what surely will be an intriguing finale. Even with the final word of Godsgrave, Kristoff continued to pack the plot of with twists, secrets, and betrayals. After spending almost the entirety of the first book inside the Red Church, Kristoff has finally loosened the reins and moved Mia closer toward her goal. The writing and plotting both seem tighter and better focused, lending technical improvements to a story that already was captivating thanks to the sheer strength of its protagonist.

As the series moves toward it climax, it promises to be a hell of a ride.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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One Comment

  1. Alex says:

    I’m a big fan of this series so far. It’s incredibly self-indulgent with regards to twists, trope usage/subversion, and the prose with which it presents all of it–but it’s just so confident and self-assured as a work that you never question any of it. The momentum is so tremendous that you can’t help but be entertained, and then (almost despite yourself) quite invested too.

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