Book Review: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff ★★★

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“My father used to say the art of telling a good story lies in knowing when to stop. Keep talking long enough, you’ll find there’s no such thing as a happy ending.”

Welp. I tried the second book in hopes that it would be amazing and that this series would become a new favorite of mine. Instead, it was a run of the mill middle book, entertaining enough, but kind of boring. A bit of filler. I found this one even less compelling than the first novel, unfortunately 😭. 3 stars.

It once again took me a much longer time to read this than I thought it would. It was frustrating, too, because when I would pick it up, I was into the story enough to read for a while and I would enjoy it for the most part. I just never wanted to read it. I never had the urge to actually sit down and read Godsgrave, and honestly it put me in a bit of a reading slump.

There were elements of the story that I liked: some of the new characters, Mia questioning her motives and rights, some amazing quotes from the text, the twists at the end. Buuuuuut that was about it. This book felt too long. All of the events started to blur together, and lose their sense of suspense and intrigue. For a book about assassins and gladiators and shadow creatures and world-altering revolutions, it was pretty fucking boring to tell you the truth.

The plot was very repetitive and formulaic. Mia decided that becoming a slave/gladiatii and getting sold to the fighting pits was her way to overthrow the Red Church and finally kill the ones responsible for her parent’s deaths. This could have been cool. At first I thought it would be. But it quickly became very much a filler novel relying on the spectacle of fight after fight. Each fight is crazier and harder and more impressive than the last one!!! Wow aren’t we so enamored with Mia and her cold-hearted, blood-thirsty fighting skills? No, I’m really not 🤷‍♂️. Especially since she didn’t win a match this time around without blatantly cheating. And not sneaky Darkin cheating, like actual cheating with sabotage and poison to best her competitors (with the help of Ashlinn and, for real tho, why was she even there the whole time??) Not a good look.

In fact, I felt even less connected to Mia as a character this time around. I enjoyed the fact that she was questioning her choices, her morals, and if she should decide the fate of so many, based on her own thirst for revenge. That was all well and good. But for the most part, we were just drilled over the head again and again with praise for Mia and admiration for Mia and lust for Mia. The author tries so hard to make her seem cold and cruel and awesome and different and better than everyone else. It gets a tad bit annoying to read about constantly. Oh and just a sidenote, but why even establish her as a “not very pretty” girl in the first book, if you are just going to immediately make her magically beautiful? What was the point of her being plain, if we are now told every other page how hot she is and how badly everyone wants to bone her? And side sidenote: you can’t tell us she has no ass whatsoever one page and then talk about her luscious curves, the envy of all other women, the next 🙄.

I did not feel anything at all toward Mia’s romantic relationship in this second book. Granted, I didn’t like the romance in the first book either. But this one had zero chemistry. It was weird, because the love interest tried multiple times to get with Mia and Mia shoots her down each time, until she finally relents and decides she does actually want to bang her. Then they’re madly in love out of nowhere?? I felt nothing for them, and frankly found them pretty annoying and juvenile. It was a female/female romance, though, which was interesting, as it established Mia as a bisexual character (presumably, since she doesn’t actually use the term, but she acknowledges that she finds both men and women sexually attractive). However, I was not left with a good impression of the romance or the multiple sex scenes that just seemed unnecessary.

Other than the repetitive nature of this book, the writing was good. That is the thing, I do think that the author is a great writer. I just don’t enjoy how he chooses to execute his story a lot of the time. I am not a fan of the gimmicks he employs, such as the repetition of names and traits (oh really, she has sunsburned eyes, you say???) of characters, the mirror/parallel scenes, using Mister Kindly to break the 4th wall too much, etc. There were less footnotes in the sequel versus the first novel, but they were still cheeky and funny. I enjoy those little asides and bits of commentary. I found that the other comic relief in the book, such as the creative cursing and the banter between Mister Kindly and Eclipse, lost its charm pretty quickly though.

I started to get annoyed by things and scenes that just seemed unneeded, because I was already taking too long to finish the book and so much of it felt like filler. Really, only the beginning conversations between Mia, Ashlinn, and Mercurio, and the end reveals are necessary for the plot to progress. The gladiator bits would have been awesome, if they were cut down a few scenes and actually paved the way for some character development (which, yes, there was some of with Mia’s misgivings and the choices that she makes in the end, but too much was focused on the spectacle and the Mia Praise Train). The romance could have been left out completely. I feel like more time could have been used to explore Mia’s past and her parent’s home and their secrets. And hello, the Darkin stuff! That was completely ignored once again to keep it all secretive until the final book, I guess.

Idk, overall, I found this mildly enjoyable and I do want to finish out the series to see what happens, but it was certainly not as amazing as I was lead to believe it would be. I found all of the other gladiatii backstories WAY more interesting than Mia’s sob story and that is pretty telling, I think. I am forever salty that the UK hardcovers are so gorgeous, but I now have no reason to go out of my way to get them. Oh well. I’ll get Darkdawn from the library eventually.

I mean, to be fair, I would argue with Eclipse, too.

How did you guys like this one?

Title: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles #2)
Author: Jay Kriftoff
Genre: Fantasy | Adult | Young Adult | LGBTQ+ | Assassins | Gladiators | Romance
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Page Count: 419 pages
Buy It: Wordery Book Depository

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