Series: Everless #1
Published: January 2, 2018
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.
No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.
But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.
Everless has a fabulous premise, introducing readers to a world where time is used as currency, but everyone except the elite seem to be running out of it. The story builds on this original premise by moving the story’s setting from Jules’s impoverished town to Everless itself–the sumptuous manner of the local ruling family. Since I love unique fantasy and books that bring readers into the lush lives of the wealthy, I was on board with this from the start.
Granted, the point is that not everything is what it seems and that the glittering lives of the rich are built (pretty literally here) on the blood of the poor. Plus, our protagonist is a servant, so she’s not 100% living the high life herself. However, I enjoyed the balance of seeing both dies of this world, the lower class and the upper class. I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about servant girls who work in the kitchen and live in a dormitory of cots with other girls and want to be handmaiden to their mistresses, etc., so the world-building was not 100% as fresh as I’d like, but it still drew me in.
I was also a fan of Jules. Sure, she does the stereotypical thing of doing exactly what she was warned not to do if she at all valued her life, but she’s at least self-aware about it. She realizes it’s objectively stupid but decides she’s willing to take the risk to find out what she wants to know. She’s not necessarily foolish; she just knows what she wants and is willing to take risks to get it, and I can get behind that.
However, I have two main issues with the novel. First, the magic system is unclear to me and seems hand-wavy. We know that someone found a way to extract time from blood; how or why is not mentioned. (Obviously, it’s clear why people would want to live longer and would therefore want to take time from other people, but it’s not immediately obvious to me how time came to act as currency.) The ambiguity of the magic was not a deal breaker for me in this novel; however, because of the way the plot went, I believe the author will need to clarify this in book two, or it will become a problem.
Second, the romance is not convincing. I won’t go into details in order to avoid spoilers, but the gist is that I don’t think the protagonist actually knows that much about the love interest; she also barely interacts with him. This, too, is something that could be fixed in book two, but we’ll have to wait to see.
In spite of these flaws, the book is original and entertaining enough that I truly enjoyed reading it. It’s strong YA fantasy, and I look forward to reading the sequel, where I think our protagonist will really grow into her own and show her strength.
I’d give this book 3.5 stars, but we don’t generally give half stars on the blog, so I don’t have a graphic for that.