Review: Everless by Sara Holland
‘Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. Even the spirit of the Alchemist is said to wander these woods, trapping whole eternities in a breath.
I know better than to be afraid of stories.’
At first, Everless is hard to get into. We’re thrown into a world where blood is converted to money and the more you’re bled, the less time you have left. The stories say that this is because of the Alchemist and the Sorceress, who ‘bound time to blood and metal’.
We meet Jules on her seventeenth birthday. As she’s just turned seventeen, she’s legally allowed to bleed her years, and she plans to spend her birthday doing just that to ease up some of her and her father’s money troubles. Her father forbids her, but Jules knows that if the collector bleeds him then he’ll be a step closer to a death which seems unavoidable.
Luckily, there’s a royal wedding on the horizon, so Everless – the home of the Gerling family, whose youngest son will soon be marrying the Queen of Sempera’s heir – is hiring new staff members. Jules barters with the collector, promising to pay their debt when she starts working for the Gerlings. The collector agrees, but Jules’ father attempts to stop her, warning her from going back to Everless. Jules grew up in the castle, but the pair were forced to flee after witnessing one of the Gerling heirs attempting to throw the other into the forge. Jules saved Roan from his brother’s clutches, but returning to Everless means risking Liam’s wrath if he discovers her identity.
Obviously, Jules sneaks out and is chosen to work at the palace – the book probably wouldn’t be called Everless if she wasn’t!
But when she arrives at the palace, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Jules’ father turns up at the palace and warns her to stay out of the Queen’s sight, refusing to elaborate when Jules demands to know what’s going on. When the Queen’s party arrives, their carriage is covered in arrow holes and their servants are blood-stained and muddy. It looks like the wedding isn’t going to go smoothly after all…
There’s a lot of establishing, but the pace picks up dramatically after the Queen arrives at the palace. More details about Sempera, the Alchemist and the Sorceress are revealed throughout, and as the history of this magical realm is revealed the place takes on a life of its own. One of the most interesting places is a town which is stuck half a day behind the rest of the world! If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ll love the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey aspects of Everless. (In fact, the Alchemist seems to be quite similar to the Doctor, but I won’t tell you how!).
Everless seems predictable, but there are lots of unexpected twists. I thought I’d figured out exactly what was going to happen within the first quarter, but it all gets flipped on its head a couple of times throughout the book. You’ll change your mind on what you think is going to happen, and then you’ll have to change it again a couple of pages later! Sara Holland certainly keeps you on your toes, although there’s a bit too much going on in the last few chapters. Take your time towards the end and you should be okay (or read it twice like I did, just to get everything straight in your head!).
The epilogue tacked on the end is unnecessary, and the events that unfold in it could easily have been saved for the second book in the duology. However, because the main story ends on a dramatic cliffhanger, it’s going to be impossible to resist continuing on with the series. If you aren’t ready for a yearlong wait, put Everless to the bottom of your TBR and read it closer to the second book’s release date. The likelihood is that I’m going to reread it at the end of the year, because I’m going to want the events fresh in my head.
Everless is an extremely strong debut novel which will appeal to people who regularly read YA fantasy and to those who often find themselves avoiding the genre. Holland writes strong, believable characters, and you’ll find yourself wanting to be best friends with Jules by the time you turn the last page.
If you’re interested in learning more about Everless, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!
Have you read Everless yet? If so, did you enjoy it as much as I did?