Book Review: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
Godsgrave is the sequel to Jay Kristoff’s YA fantasy novel Nevernight, about a teenage assassin on a mission to avenge the death of her parents. I reviewed Nevernight last month, but if you haven’t read it, this review is going to be full of spoilers. So. You were warned.
Godsgrave re-introduces the narration style found in the beginning of Nevernight, with the parallel stories in each chapter. But, where Nevernight mirrored Mia’s first sexual encounter with her first murder, in Godsgrave we see her story at different points in time, before and after a certain event that is not revealed until the end of the first part of the novel. In the before sections, Mia’s story picks up eight months after the events of Nevernight. She a fully-fledged Blade now, and is regularly assigned missions (especially since the Luminatii attack left the Church very low on personnel). In the after sections, she is stranded in the Whisperwastes, and is captured by a slaver, who is taking her to be sold in the Hanging Gardens of Ashkah (which is a much creepier place than it sounds).
We have the return of Ashlinn, Jessamine, and the other usual suspects from the previous volume, but the power dynamics are new and unpredictable. The comic relief provided by the witty back and forth between Mister Kindly and Eclipse is also back, and sharper than before. If you didn’t enjoy it in Nevernight though, I have bad news for you.
After the murder of Remus in the last book, Mia has a new plan in motion for the murder of Duomo and Scaeva, and this takes central stage in Godsgrave. In the sequel, Kristoff develops his vision of a medieval Roman Republic with the inclusion of gladiators. He also makes a point of developing the social structure of Itreya, with a deep dive into the lives of slaves. This is very refreshing as Mia’s plan often takes a back seat to these issues, and it serves to further define her character.
In true YA fantasy spirit, Godsgrave is formed by moments of shifting alliances, surprising friends and enemies, and further revelations regarding Mia’s past (including the recent past of Nevernight). I don’t know how good a sequel it is. On the one hand, it did a good job of introducing new themes, plots, and pacing. On the other hand, I felt it could go a bit further in this new direction, without relying on a few YA conventions that, while they’re definitely not a dealbreaker, make it harder for Godsgrave to separate itself from the crowd in a meaningful way.
All in all, if you liked Nevernight, I think you’re going to like Godsgrave too, but I don’t know to what degree. It is a bit of a different animal. I liked it fine myself, and it was a very easy and enjoyable read. I will definitely look forward to the third book when it comes out in a year or so, I assume, cause the most important question (for me) is still very elusive: Who is narrating this story?!
Have you read Godsgrave yet? What did you think? I'd love to know what you think about it as a sequel (especially if you loved Nevernight) and please if anyone has any theories about who the narrator is, tell me in the comments below!
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Pendora since Jan. 2016. Successfully impersonated a student of English literature and now a Publishing student in Edinburgh. Interested in the direction English literature is taking in the 21st century, noir comics, beautifully shot films. Can bore you to death with Hollywood trivia, extensive knowledge of Leonard Cohen, and La La Land. TWITTER INSTAGRAM