[T]o 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.
3.85/5 paper planes
What’s This Book About?
Genre: High fantasy
Publication: 5 Sep 2017
Pages: 419 (hardback)
Synopsis: The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the memory of the Itreyan Republic.
Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape Godsgrave alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic.
But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from the dead, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time.
Can Mia survive in a world where even daylight must die?
Content warnings (highlight to see): graphic violence, blood and gore; death, suicide and murder; ships in distress (storms); unwanted sexual advances; explicit sexual content and sexual references; animal cruelty (including death); loss of a loved one
What I Thought:
In honour of this buddy read being with the one and only V, The Sassy Library Fox, a fellow BTS ARMY and the one who gifted me my Yoongi nickname, I shall only be using Yoongi (aka SUGA of BTS) gifs in this review! (Happy late Yoongi day!!)
Let’s get going with the review, shall we?
He looks calm but this face to me screams ‘leave me alone, I’m reading!’
We’ll begin, much like ‘Nevernight’ did, at the end. Why, why, WHY ruin a good book with such a last minute cop-out of a swerve? (If you know, you know. No spoilers, no funerals. Oh wait…wrong series…)
I felt so much more emotional at the bittersweet pre-Big Showdown™ chapters – even the second last and maybe even the start of the final chapter – until everything just got incredibly cheapened.
The below gifs represent my reaction to the last chapter (I guess the epilogue wasn’t *all* bad)…
Wait…what? How? Why? Most importantly, why do I feel ANNOYED instead of touched?
Imagining myself standing with them on that stupid Threelakes shore, just so #done with this
…after the epilogue explains the last chapter…
The last line in Kristoff’s author bio is a bald-faced LIE. (Did he do that on purpose?) Far from being moved or even relieved, the only emotion I felt was disappointed with a hefty dollop of irritation…and a chief source of that irritation was Ashlinn.
Ashlinn as an entire character, the Mia-Ash romance and the Ash-Tric drama were a huge con for me in this book. While it was annoying in ‘Godsgrave’, it was practically intolerable here. Despite Kristoff’s best efforts (unless he secretly hates Ashlinn too?) I felt absolutely zero investment, sympathy, kinship…whatever. I also hated how Ashlinn treated Tric. Without a doubt, Tric is my favourite character in the trilogy (wow, he unseated Mr Kindly?!) and my grudge from Book 1 still stands, stronger than ever.
Me, disgusted at what Ash just did and ready to rage to V about it
The whole Mia/Ash romance also felt heavily imbalanced towards lust rather than love, and the depth of emotion supposedly felt by both was repeatedly told to us rather than shown. Honestly, I am so thankful that V didn’t like Ashlinn or the Mia/Ash pairing (or Mash as we like to call it), either. If I couldn’t rant to her about it I don’t know how I could’ve carried on!
Thank you V!
ALRIGHTY now with the massive negative points out of the way, we can ~* finally *~ move on to the positives! I mean, hello, this still got almost 4 stars from me.
…so relieved to get to the good parts…
Despite what I said earlier about feeling nothing at the ending, this was simultaneously the only book in the trilogy to make me cry! I’m talking sobs. Full on, tears streaming, shoulders shaking bawling. I didn’t realise how much I loved some of these characters until that moment! Some of the plot twists were absolutely jaw-dropping. No, sorry, I mean jaw-BREAKING. Plot armour who???
(Let’s ignore the last chapter, we’ve already covered that.)
There were some really great action scenes in here too, and the battles at sea (both with humans and nature goddesses) were particularly tense and immersive. (Did I mention I have a fear of the open ocean?) Imagining Mia’s storm-ridden sailing experiences using this SUGA gif from Run BTS cracks me up so much:
‘Darkdawn’ introduces a number of new characters, and while we may only get one book with them, they were certainly memorable! Cloud Corleone and Mia’s brother Jonnen were especially outstanding and both had intriguing backstories. I actually became quite fond of Baby Corvere!
Jay has a talent for writing symbolically parallel scenes and I enjoyed how meta it got with the ‘Nevernight’ books appearing in the Athenaeum (the library at the Quiet Mountain). There was also a touch of political intrigue inside the Red Church itself, which, though minor, was nonetheless fun to read.
[Footnote:] Kristoff included plenty of footnotes, as per usual, and some of them made me laugh out loud! (Do his other books have this quirk too, or just the ‘Nevernight’ ones?)
While perhaps not as stunning of a series conclusion as I’d hoped, ‘Darkdawn’ was still a fun and exciting page-turner – all the more so because I got to read it with V!