I read Nevernight almost an year ago and absolutely fell in love. I would have usually decided to pick up the sequel right away, but knowing that Godsgrave ends with a massive cliffhanger and the finale wouldn’t be out for quite a while made me very skeptical to pick it up. So, after all this time I’m finally here. I’ve done it folks. I finished Godsgrave and I’m glad I waited to read this till I had Darkdawn in my hands.
It didn’t take me very long this time around to get used to the author’s writing style but it’s still not always easy to follow. I also found there to be a lot of descriptions that weren’t exactly necessary to the story. But the pacing was mostly consistent, with a gradual buildup of tension and the last few chapters had me on the edge of my seat. I thought the gladiatii fight sequences were very well written, creating a lot of tense and thrilling moments. Because the story has shifted from training to actual fighting and takes place among slave fighters, the brutality and violence and gore in this installment is much worse than the first book. There are also many revelations that took me by surprise but the ones at the end definitely take the cake for blowing my mind. And even if I had initially planned to take a break before reading Darkdawn, I don’t know if it’s possible now.
Mia is still the badass protagonist I have come to love and it was nice to get to back to her story. Her goal is still the same, get revenge for the deaths of her family and every task she accomplishes for the Red Church is just another step in that direction. But when she is faced some very horrific truths, she decides to take matters into her own hands and become a gladiatii. But it’s when she becomes a slave and gets to know the other fighters that she realizes the brutal truth about the slave trade, and how it forms the basis for the prosperity of the Itreyan republic. I liked how the author used her experience as a slave to let her introspect her own life, wonder if she would have grown up to be as cruel as the other slave holders if her family was alive, and also feel conflicted about protecting the other slaves around her at the expense of her revenge. For all the coldness she displays and prioritizes her endgame above all, she struggles about sacrificing others as a stepping stone for her ambition and this little compassionate side of her was what I appreciated the most.
There is a very passionate sapphic romance in this book and while it’s amazing that Mia is able to find someone whom she wants to trust atleast a little, it wasn’t almost till the end that I was convinced about Ash’s loyalty. So, it took me quite a bit of time to actually enjoy their romance. We also meet a whole host of other new characters who evoked a lot of sympathy because of the brutal circumstances under which they came to be slaves, and it was very interesting to see Mia interact with them. Mister Kindly and Eclipse are of course her constant companions, and while some of their bickering was fun, I can’t say that I understood all of their conversations. Mercurio only shows up for a little bit but his relationship with Mia and how they feel about each other was definitely one of the best parts of the book for me.
Finally, I just wanna say that this sequel was fun, thrilling, thought provoking and quite brutal but ultimately, exactly what I would have wanted from it. I felt revolted at times while extremely anxious at others and it’s this range of feelings that are evoked in us that makes this such a well written series. If you have already read and loved Nevernight, I obviously don’t need to tell you to pick up this one. However if haven’t read this series but love a bloody and dark story featuring a badass female assassin and lots of stabbing, you should definitely check it out. I’m much more excited to read Darkdawn now and can’t wait to finally know how it all ends.