Book Review: Nightborn (The Hollow King #2)

NightbornTitle: Nightborn

Author: Jessica Thorne

Pub. Date: May 26, 2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Like deep dark water, it pulls them down. The faint fire of magic within them flickers and dies. Their eyes turn black as night. They are nightborn now.

Grace Marchant has been many things: streetwise orphan, rebellious servant, and now beloved companion of Prince Bastien, heir to the throne of Larelwynn. But their sunlit happiness is not destined to last. The golden magic which brought them together in purest passion is threatened by strange and ancient forces. Innocent people are becoming nightborn – cruel, deadly, unrecognisable to their loved ones – and these two young lovers are the only ones with power enough to stop it.

In times of peace, striking a deal with their closest enemy would be unthinkable, but now their only hope is to ally with the neighbouring Valenti royal family: manipulative, cunning, and always with an eye on the Larelwynn throne. The partnership comes at a devastating price… if Grace wants to defeat the nightborn, she must watch Bastien marry a Valenti princess.

Grace knows she must make this heart-wrenching sacrifice for the good of the whole kingdom – but she also fears the magic in her veins, usually so warm and bright, is turning cold as deepest midnight. A beguiling darkness whispers to her from within. Is Grace herself becoming nightborn?

Time is running out. With Bastien promised to another, and a stony distance growing between them, will Grace find the source of the nightborn curse before every last soul is consumed by the darkness?

This will be a spoiler free review and thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

In the words of Oliver Twist –

Oliver Twist - Please Sir, I Want Some More GIF by John | Gfycat

Just replace “sir” with “Jessica Thorne”.

I have no idea if there is a book 3. I really hope there is a book 3. I don’t know what would happen in a book 3, but I want it.

I legit just finished reading this book, and I’m speechless. So Much happens in it, and I went through the range of emotions. Rage – I wanted to throw my phone across the room because of a certain thing that happens to Bastien early on. Then my heart was breaking for both Bastien and Grace. Then I was raging again, then nearly sobbing, and then the whole ending was just me switching between the sobbing, mind blow, shocked, angry emojis.

I went through a freaking gauntlet of emotions with this book and it was so damn good.

There really isn’t a calm moment in this book, and it keeps you turning the page…though the thing that happens to Bastien early on had me so angry on his behalf, I had to take a thirty-minute break and watch funny animal videos on Facebook.

Y’all, I’d die to protect Bastien. He deserves to be protected. That poor boy needs a freaking hug. If you’ve read Mageborn you know why, since you’ll know a bit of his backstory. If you haven’t read Mageborn – go do it, stop reading this post, and got read it – then I don’t know how to explain it without spoilers.

I guess you could say, that his agency is taken from him by people who want nothing more than to control him.

Gah, that sounds like a spoiler, but it’s also very super vague. Forgive me.

I legit cannot think of another way to describe what happens to him, that’s not dangling a carrot in front of you, taunting you with knowledge you don’t have.

So, go read Mageborn. You have enough time to do so before Nightborn comes out in May.

I loved this book – I hope that’s clear, but I was a little bored in the very beginning? Maybe it’s just because I struggled to remember what happened in Mageborn (despite having read it in January…I’ve read a lot since then). I’m chalking it up to that, since it does pick up pretty quickly. I think it was only the first 15% that I struggled through a bit, and then things started coming back to me. This book is nothing, but a bunch of tension filled, longing glances, I’m not good enough for her/him, and I ate that shit up. Like, hell yes. I want the pining, the self-doubt, the, I’m so madly in love with that person that the best thing I can do is to force myself not to be with them, because I’m not worthy. Sound logic, right?

Give me more.

Watching how Grace and Bastien navigate all these obstacles that are thrown their way was so fun and honestly, rage inducing and heartbreaking. They both go through so much, as Grace fights with a seductive dark voice in her ear, and Bastien remembers more and more, and constantly has to be reminded that he’s worth saving – that whatever he’s done when his agency is forcibly taken from him by others, he’s not to blame. They fight for so much, for each other, for it all to be repeatedly ripped from their hands. As the reader it hurts to watch them suffer so much, but it’s also entertaining as hell.

While this book is nothing but non-stop action, I do think that it’s primarily a character driven novel, and we get to see how these characters (mainly Grace and Bastien) grow, change and evolve, what sacrifices are they willing and not willing to make.

We’ve already established that I just want to give Bastien a hug and protect him. But I think this book has solidified Grace Marchant as one of my favorite female heroines. She’s a bad ass, skilled guard, who dishes sass and snark and will die for those she claims as family. She’s fiercely loyal and even when all hope seems lost, she does not give up. But we kind of see this other side to her in this book. She isn’t just this assured fighter, who puts her life on the line constantly. We get to see the softer side, the jealous side, the terrified side, and those sides aren’t locked behind a wall of propriety. Grace is very much (at times) a very vulnerable girl, who just wants to belong. I think so often, when bad ass female characters are written, they aren’t always super vulnerable, or they’re only vulnerable after suffering some kind of massive trauma. While Grace doesn’t have it easy by any means in this book, and goes through some pretty traumatizing things, we get to see glimpses of a girl who gets jealous, or hurt, or just doesn’t know what to do when things aren’t okay.

I don’t know, maybe I’m rambling, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her break a little bit, seeing that tough outer shell crack and break as the world around her threw more and more at her. I felt her heartbreak, her will to save those she cares about. I think Jessica did so well with her character…with all her characters. She makes you feel for all of them.

There are also some very satisfying moments for other characters, that just make you want to scream, yes! but in the way, where karma bites them in the ass for the shit that they’ve done. It’s super satisfying.

The ending of this book is perfect. I wasn’t sure how this story was going to come to a close, but I’m so not mad. I am curious though to see if there is going to be more. With the way it ended, it was a bit open. I hope there is more because I’m not ready to be done with Grace, Bastien, Ellyn, Daniel, Misha, Rynn, Kurt and the rest.

If you haven’t already, go read Mageborn – you can check out my spoiler free review here. If you’re a fan of Sarah J. Maas and/or Elise Kova, you’re going to fall in love with this series and these characters. So, do yourself the favor and start this series. Both of these books kept me up until the light started shining in through my window. Perfect binge-able books.

Have I convinced you yet?

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