Fantasy, Dark Sarcasm, and Sci-Fi: Reading Pathways to Jay Kristoff

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When it comes to an author that knows dark humor, comedic character development, and just the right formula to dive into young adult and adult writing, Jay Kristoff is the right person for the job.

Jay Kristoff’s characters and books have the right type of attitude, sure to feed that need for unique and edgy storytelling with a side of strong sass. With that said, this author is one for the ages, and all ages, but you just have to pick the right book to start with and get introduced to his storytelling techniques.

With that in mind, I have created this reading pathway to three Jay Kristoff books sure to please readers seeking dark and deeply sarcastic characters, funny space cadets, and a little steampunk fantasy.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

In this very much adult, bloody dark fantasy (not for younger audiences), Jay introduces us to Mia Corvere, the daughter of an executed traitor. Mia was barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life, and now she is seeking revenge. Alone and without friends, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and her future takes an immediate unexpected turn.

Now, Mia is apprenticed at 16 years old to a deadly group of assassins, the darkest and most vicious in the entire Republic, known as the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder and might be closer to her goal of avenging her family.

This book will have you immediately reaching for Godsgrave and Darkdawn, for this Nevernight chronicle is a trilogy full of mystery, action, and lots of amazing banter between characters that proves that Jay is truly a master of his craft.

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

In this action-filled, hilarious, and fun sci-fi young adult fantasy, Jay Kristoff weaves a tale sure to intrigue those who love fantastical tales of outer space.

In the novel, the year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own last-minute heroism sees him stuck with the group of cadets nobody else in the academy would touch. The group of five cadets include a sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates, a tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder, an alien warrior with anger-management issues, and some other interesting people, making it a group he’d rather not be stuck with. Little does he know that trouble is coming his way.

That problem is Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, a girl he just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth, but she sees what just might be coming in their future. And Tyler and his group of cadets might be the universe’s only hope.

Expect lots of laughs, fast-paced storytelling and outer space action in this novel co-written with author Amie Kaufman, writer of the amazing 2020 release The Other Side of the Sky. Make sure to run and pick up the sequel, Aurora Burning, for more galactic fun. The third book is due in the summer of 2021.

Stormdancer (The Lotus War) by Jay Kristoff

In this steampunk and super edgy story, The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse, a sad moment for an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now brought down by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild.

When hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. The price of failing the Shogun is death. Accompanying her father on the Shogun’s hunt is a girl known as Yukiko, who finds herself stranded in the wilderness with an angry griffin. Even though she can hear his thoughts and even saved his life, he seems to not appreciate her company. But together, a friendship blooms that just might help save them both and the empire.

This fantasy book is the first in Jay’s Lotus War series, followed by Kinslayer and Endsinger, a series sure to thrill fans of strong characters and even stronger action scenes.


For those of you wishing for more Jay Kristoff fun, you can also check out his other series with Amie Kaufman, Illuminae, and also pick up his cyberpunk-filled LIFEL1k3, both young adult novels with a ton of bite.

Have you enjoyed Jay Kristoff’s novels in the past? Do you plan to give them a shot? Let us know on Twitter at @BookRiot and let me know your favorite pick at @AuroraMiami.

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