Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: 4 January 2018
Rating: 5 stars
“I know better than to be afraid of stories.”
In the land of Semprea, time is the currency ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery. Hours, weeks, years are extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The aristocrats are taxing the poor, bleeding them dry, and all to add time to their own lives. Jules and her father are behind on rent and low on hours. To keep her father alive, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family and her childhood home. Jules tries to untangle the web of secrets surrounding her past, all while doing all she can to remain unnoticed.
Oh my god! I was not prepared at all for the hole this story has punched through my chest. I adored this world. It’s the perfect mix quirky, dark and creepy. I cannot believe I have to wait so long for the squeal when I have all these questions!
This world completely sucked me into the narrative. Semprea is a society built on blood magic and was one of the most creative worlds I’ve read about in a long time. While I might never want to visit Everless, I am completely drawn to it.
Everless feels like France in the early 1700s just before the revolution hit. The poor are starving, overworked and can’t afford the cost of living. In comparison, the rich are draped in wealth and spend it carelessly. For example, the aristocratic ladies slip coins in their tea to sweeten the flavour and coins are thrown in fireplaces to make the flames burn brighter. While they might seem strange to do these things, these depictions gave me a sick feeling. Coins, as we know, are essences of someone’s life.
Throughout the narrative, we learn more about mythic history of The Sorceress and The Alchemist. These are stories Jules is trying to remember from her childhood. I adored this fairytale-esque element and for me, it helped give another dimension to the world. After all humans, even those in fantasy worlds, crave the understanding an old tale can give.
Jules is a pretty relatable protagonist. She’s trying her best to help save her father and her house. I didn’t find her too irritating unlike some female protagonist in YA. Her whole focus is trying to stay alive and uncover the secrets of her past. Why her father doesn’t want her anywhere near Everless? Why they’ve stayed in hiding? She is portrayed as quite mature for her age. Although I will say, she does have a borderline obsessive crush on her childhood friend, Roan Gerling. Thankfully it’s not a major focal point, especially since we get this sense that maybe Roan isn’t the knight in shining armour she’s dreams he is.
I could see why people have said nothing happens and that there is a lot of info dumping. For me, I was fascinated by the world that I didn’t feel like there was any. Also, it isn’t a high action book. That’s not to say that there is no tension. Jules’ goal is it to infiltrate the Gerling family to find out why her father was desperate to keep her away from Everless. The tension in the narrative comes from Jules trying to stay unrecognised and keeping a low profile rather than fight scenes.
I loved this book and I am so devastated that it’s going to be another year—A WHOLE YEAR!— before we get to find out what happens next. If you’re into dark fantasy worlds and don’t mind a story that is low in action, Everless might be the story for you.