Welcome back to SFF Opening Lines! As a reminder, this series focuses on the all-important first line of a novel; the sentence that shapes the tone and very essence of the novel that follows those words. While a first line doesn’t have to shock you to your core, it should intrigue you enough to want to keep reading.
This mini-review will include the first line and—depending on if I’ve read the book or not—either my opinion on how this first line sums up the novel or my first impression and predictions of what the vibe of the story will be. This week, I’m looking at Nevernight, Radiant, and Kingdom of the Wicked.
Nevernight (Jay Kristoff)
“People often shit themselves when they die.”
How does it sum up the book?
Perfectly. In my limited reading experience, I don’t think I’ve ever read a line that better encapsulates a series’ voice than this one.
How striking is this line? We’re talking about death and shit, for goodness sake. Not to mention the semi-surprising statement because, well, how often do you think about what happens to a person after they die? If you’ve read Nevernight (or its sequels Godsgrave and Darkdawn), you know Mia Corvere is a deadly force no one should ever cross. And, if for some reason they do, they probably won’t be alive to apologize.
A+ opening line. Draws you in immediately and keeps that pace the entire book.
Radiant (Karina Sumner-Smith)
“Curled in a concrete alcove that had once been a doorway, Xhea watched the City man make his awkward way through the market tents, dragging a ghost behind him.”
This is a pretty interesting first line, but only for the last five words. “Dragging a ghost behind him” is the hook of this story, and the reason I read on. What sort of alternate world is this where people drag ghosts around? Can everyone see the ghosts? How are ghosts controlled on their tether, if at all?
In my opinion, there’s a bit too much worldbuilding in the first line. It could be cut down to “Xhea watched the City man make his way through the market tents, dragging a ghost behind him” and it’d have the same effect.
Kingdom of the Wicked (Kerri Maniscalco)
“Outside, wind rattled the wooden chimes in warning.”
How does it sum up the book?
If you’ve read my KINGDOM review, you’ll know that I wasn’t a massive fan of the book. I’ll say, then, I think this opening line is reflective of the rest of the book. To me, the entire novel felt like a ramp up to the sequel, which I’m assuming is the “real” story. This first line doesn’t tell us much but a bit of a scene set up.
My two cents: this line isn’t that intriguing. There’s no reason for me to figure out what the warning is for—which is the only part of the sentence that’s interesting—and I could care less about wood chimes or wind.
Next Time on Opening Lines…
My next post will include Circe, House of Salt and Sorrows, and The Invisible Life of Addie Larue. Have other books’ first lines you’d like me to comment on? Drop them below and I’ll add them to my list!
As always, thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day!