Disclaimer: ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
The greatest games in Godsgraves history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history 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 the City of Bridges and Bones 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 beyond the veil of death, 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?
Darkdawn is kind of meta in a way and while I appreciate (and laughed) at Jay Kristoff poking fun at his writing and inserting reader critiques, I enjoyed this less than the other two books because it failed to capitalize on the build up of its predecessors. If I were reviewing this in a vacuum with no knowledge of the other two books, I’d probably rate this higher, but I’m not.
The first half of Darkdawn was an underwhelming, poorly paced, meandering adventure with quite a few cringey scenes, and an onslaught of sex scenes that felt kind of voyeuristic. The first half made me think the characters had too much time on their hands and the book never let me forget that this series is written by a man (there’s even a meta scene about this critique later in the book). The revenge plot from the first two books shifted to “the chosen one” and while that didn’t bother me too much, I think it affected my overall enjoyment as things with gods usually muddles most narratives.
I liked the addition of Jonnen and his characterization was realistic, albeit a tad overdone (a theme in this series). I wish we had more scenes between Mia and Jonnen because their dynamic was one of my favorite aspects of the book. Jay Kristoff could’ve had me eating out of the palm of his hands with this sibling relationship with a few more scenes. Aside from Jonnen, I was pretty much annoyed with the main characters. I loved Tric in Nevernight, but the character aggravated me to no end in this book. Kristoff’s explanation for upending his world-building to bring Tric back from the dead was too convenient for me and Darkdawn failed to convince me the decision was worth it. I spent the entire book wishing he had stayed dead. We don’t even need to talk about Ashlinn because I still don’t care about her. And Mia going back and forth between Ashlinn and Tric also annoyed me.
The second half made up for slogging through the first half. The story kicked into gear from here and Kristoff’s writing and action scenes shined. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat because even with the graphic content the book was kind of low stakes, but I was enthralled. The action scenes were thrilling and this half was a reminder of the things I liked about the series. It also made me think a third of this book should’ve been cut so we could’ve gotten to the good stuff sooner because it was that much better. I really enjoyed the second half, but they were a few moments where I audibly complained about how long the book was.
I think the conclusion will satisfy most readers, but it didn’t work for me. Part of me feels confused. Part of me feels like it cheapened the series. Part of me expected more from a series that prides itself on its ruthlessness and grimdark-ness. Part of me expected the ending we got.
Overall, Darkdawn wasn’t my favorite series conclusion, but it did answer the lingering questions I had from the previous two books. But it was kind of tame and there are also unanswered questions from this book. 3.5 stars.
Would recommend this to fans of the series.
P.s. I didn’t read any of the footnotes because I’ve never liked them.
P.p.s. For anyone who’s curious about my rating for the other books: Nevernight 4.5 stars. Godsgrave 4 stars.