Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle (Book #3 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 512 pages (Hardback)
Published: 5th September 2019 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 3rd September 2019 by St. Martin’s Press (US)
O’gentlefriends, Darkdawn concluded The Nevernight Chronicle trilogy on a bloody high note, and it’s not implausible for me to say that this has become my favorite book in the series.
“Don’t fuck with librarians, young lady. We know the power of words.”
Each installment within the series can be classified as Mia’s journey throughout her life; Nevernight as Mia’s book of birth, Godsgrave as Mia’s book of life, and Darkdawn as Mia’s book death. Don’t worry, if you’re reading this without any knowledge of the series, that’s not a spoiler; the first page within the first book of the series has mentioned that Mia died. Now, the specifics leading towards it, and whether Mia’s death is a lie or truth, I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself. The Nevernight Chronicle, in a way, is Mia’s revenge story told by an unnamed narrator that the reader didn’t know, not until they’ve read Darkdawn anyway. I can’t tell you anything specific about the story in Darkdawn except that it continues immediately from where Godsgrave left off, and Darkdawn really finished Mia’s story. What I can tell you, however, is what made the book worked so well for me.
“And the more I live it, the more I realize “deserve” has nothing to do with this life. Blessings and curses fall on the wicked and the just alike. Fair is a fairy tale. Nothing’s claimed by those who don’t want it, and nothing’s kept by those who won’t fight for it. So let’s fight.”
I personally think that Darkdawn is the best book of the trilogy. I was on a short vacation for the past couple of days; let me tell you that putting this book down was an immensely difficult task to do. There’s a ridiculously alluring strength within Kristoff’s writing that compelled me to find out whether Mia will truly die or not. A barrage of revelations was forwarded immediately to readers—some of them being the identity of the unnamed narrator and the origin of the Darkins—within the first quarter of the book, and there are so many characterizations plus developments happening to the characters throughout the trilogy this late into the series that I hugely enjoyed reading. One of my most favorite changes implemented into this book is how the narrative has shifted into multi-perspective rather than Mia’s only POV. The multi-perspective inclusion made the story felt bigger in scope, and most importantly, it definitely made me care for many of the characters within the series rather than only a few. Kristoff really took every event from the previous two books into account; the characters, even those who I thought would only serve as minor characters, played a role in subtly enriching the scope and complexities of the series. The banter between friends, the camaraderie, the in-depth characterization, and the gradual character development; all unified to make the book more emotional than I expected it would be and I loved it.
“To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is to never die. And to burn in the memories of our friends is to never say goodbye.”
Out of all the books in the trilogy, Darkdawn’s story progression felt structured like traditional epic fantasy; filled with travels around the world, gathering comrades for the upcoming final battle, dangerous seafaring, and heartwarming interactions between the characters—both returning and new—that displayed how far they’ve have come and grown to care about each other. Although each book in the series felt a bit different from each other, they never lose the themes that acted as a constant compass for the plotlines: revenge, familia, friendship, responsibilities, and love persists even more so within this book. I also loved how Kristoff conveyed the lesson that pain shaped maturity and you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. A lot of creativities were involved in Kristoff’s storytelling style. And I’m not just speaking exclusively about the unconventional page-format found in Mia’s Shadowsteps usage or how well-written the book was. I’m talking about the incredible fourth-wall-breaking application within the narrative where Kristoff made fun of his own writing and more. The correlation between some books in Itreya and some books in our real-life was superb. These shouldn’t have worked but they did, and every moment of reading them made me smile with glee. Furthermore, I found the footnotes in Godsgrave too much to my liking; it fills me with joy that the frequency of the footnotes in Darkdawn has been reduced significantly compared to the previous two books.
“Pretty warriors can’t fight for shit. You can’t know how sweet it is to breathe ’til you’ve had your ribs broken. You can’t appreciate being happy ’til someone has made you cry. And there’s no point blaming yourself for the kickings life gives you. Just think about how much it hurt, and how much you don’t want to feel that way again. And that’ll help you do what you need to do the next time to win.”
Before I closed my review, I would like to add that the action sequences in Darkdawn were by far the best in the entire trilogy. Mia’s Shadowsteps continues to hook my attention, amazing sea battles that exceeded my expectations; Kristoff has also painted scenes of obsidian carnage in the last quarter of the book. Honestly, all the action scenes were incredibly immersive, well-written, and can be visualized vividly. Full of stakes, blood, and ruin; Mia’s stormy waltz of vengeance, in my opinion, concluded satisfyingly. If you look at the US cover art of Darkdawn, you can observe glimpses of what’s to come here. Expect unveiled hatred, rage, and palpable tension in this finale; you shall be satisfied.
“I am a daughter of the dark between the stars. I am the thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. I am the vengeance of every orphaned daughter, every murdered mother, every bastard son. I am the war you cannot win.”
There’s nothing left to say other than to say that I loved Darkdawn very much. I have a feeling the events that occurred in this book might divide the fans of the series; fortunately, it only made me love the book and the trilogy even more. Darkdawn is an astonishingly brilliant conclusion to The Nevernight Chronicle. Every page of this book was seductive, compelling, and I found this concluding installment to be greatly satisfying. Without a doubt, Darkdawn will be included in my annual end-of-the-year list as one of my favorite reads of the year. Well done, Jay Kristoff. I look forward to reading the beginning of your upcoming new series, Empire of the Vampire, next year.
Until then, goodnight, gentlefriends.
“Fear was Can’t.
Fear was Won’t.
But fear wasn’t ever a choice.
To never fear was to never hope. Never love. never live. To never fear the dark was to never smile as the dawn kissed your face. To never fear solitude was to never know the joy of a beauty in your arms.
Part of having is the fear of losing.
Part of creating is the fear of it breaking.
Part of beginning is the fear of your ending.
Fear is never a choice.
Never a choice.
But letting it rule you is.”
Nevernight: 4.5/5 stars
Godsgrave: 4/5 stars
Darkdawn: 5/5 stars
The Nevernight Chronicle: 13.5/15 stars
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)