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Nevernight (Jay Kristoff, HarperVoyager)

This is an unusual new fantasy novel. Told in a mixture of third- and second-person narrative, it’s the story of a young woman who goes from noblewoman to outcast before joining a cult-like group of assassins, told by an as-yet-unidentified narrator. This is darker than Jay Kristoff’s earlier work and while his previous book Illuminae (co-written with Amie Kaufman) was an all-ages title, this is not. There are sex scenes and profanity, though neither are gratuitous and both are in keeping with the ‘grimdark’ feel of the book. The action is dynamic and bloody, and the magic is interesting, though also quite visceral. The setting has a vaguely renaissance feel, and there’s some good world-building; I particularly liked the city built into the massive bones of a dead god and the strange time structure brought about by the fact that this world has not one but three suns. The copious footnotes in the first half of the book mix backstory titbits and wry humour in the manner of a cynical Terry Pratchett, but tended to throw me out of the story, so I was pleased that there were far fewer of them in the second half, when the tension is at its peak. This is one for fans of Scott Lynch and Brent Weeks and a worthy addition to the fantasy section.

Stefen Brazulaitis is the owner of Stefen’s Books in Perth

 

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