This was totally a guilty pleasure read. There were so many aspects of this novel that I shouldn’t like, but despite its flaws, I had so much fun reading it.
The summary gives the impression that this is a plot-driven novel, but most of it felt more character-driven. It’s narrated by Jules Ember and a lot of the writing is a mix of her introspection, analyzing everyone’s behaviors, and her obsession with revenge. It doesn’t really get plot-heavy until about the last 25%. There’s a lot of mystery that goes on throughout the story and with each reveal, you have more questions than answers.
There are a lot of tropes in this, especially if you read a lot of YA fantasy. You have an MC who doesn’t know yet that she’s a special snowflake or “the chosen one” who revolts the evil, greedy royalty to change the world and to seek revenge. On the surface, that’s enough to make you roll your eyes. Also, using time as a currency isn’t really new, but what’s different is the author’s interpretation of it. I wasn’t bothered by the time-currency angle in relation to other works, but that may bother some readers. Novels can have similar foundations or structures, while still being completely different stories. It’s all in the execution.
Everless is a vivid, dark dystopian world where a select few have all of the power and currency, while the rest of the population struggle to survive. People earn time for survival, otherwise, they pay with their blood and lose months or even years of their lives just to subsist.
There was a unique blend of well-developed characters from minor Everless servants all the way up to the Queen. The reader is pulled into Jules’s struggles to survive with her ailing father. She has a strong bond with her father and you feel the love they have for each other. They’re each willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the other and that was so touching. Jules was constantly commenting about other people’s facial expressions and honestly, it got a little annoying. It’s a guessing game whether Jules is accurately reading people and the situations she’s in.
Brothers Roan and Liam Gerling live at Everless and they’re complete opposites. Just when you think you have them pegged, something happens to make you second-guess yourself. Actually, there were other characters that I thought were a certain type of person only to discover that they were living double lives and I completely misjudged them.
There were a few twists in the story some that surprised me, some that didn’t. A few parts of the novel were confusing, so I had to go back and see what I missed. It was mainly the part about the Alchemist and the Sorceress, and aspects of Briarsmoor.
There were writing issues, but I loved the story and characters so much that I didn’t mind. Sometimes the writing drowns in metaphors and it makes the writing feel melodramatic. There’s still a lot of buildup going on with the plot and you sense that something is about to happen. There are setbacks giving you the impression that the protagonist is about to lose the game and of course she gets a sudden streak of luck to pull her out of it at the last minute.
I have mixed feelings about the cliffhanger ending. It left me partly excited and partly annoyed. I realize that it sounds like I’m complaining a lot, but I honestly did love this. I’m definitely going to continue reading this series. Everless is an addictive page-turner, so if you have it on your TBR, I say go for it.