Disclaimer – There are some spoilers within this review and it’s highlighted where, so don’t read that part if you don’t want to spoil the book!
In the world of Everless time is money and the only way to pay is through blood. The book follows Jules as she must return to the palace of Everless, where she grew up as the daughter of a servant, in order to repay her father’s debt. But the palace is full of danger and she soon reveals secrets that change the world she knows.
I received this book in a FairyLoot subscription box and was immediately intrigued by the unique plot line. The book is similar in the ‘blood’ aspect as Red Queen (Victoria Averyard) due to the fact that the blood seems to reflect the wealth of people but within this world it becomes a reflection of time. Holland seems to redefine the blood as ones lifeline as not only is it used to keep you alive but also as a way to pay for things, using it to extract time. The blood is extracted and turned into coins that represent a month or a year etc. This concept creates a rather harrowing story as people are forced to drain their blood as a way to keep their families alive. It seems as a way to reconceptualise how the lower classes struggle to stay alive with the little they have whilst the upper classes throw away their time/ blood for luxuries. Holland displays this way in the way she places Jules, a poor servant, into the lives of the royalty of Sempera and shows the juxtaposition of the lives, especially in the way that the characters react to the blood letting happening within the book.
The book is wholly in Jules’ perspective (first person narrative) and I feel that that is what made it more anticipating and dramatic as you only see what Jules sees and therefore cannot guess what will happen, due to her not knowing the whole story. Her character is strong and, especially by the end, determined and powerful. There are some moments when you feel rather annoyed at her behaviour, urging her not to do something and I feel that only happens with a well written character as you become connected to them.
While at Everless, Jules encounters the Gerling sons – Roan and Liam – who are also from her childhood. Roan is the kinder of the brothers and holds a more lighter exterior than Liam. I found Roan rather annoying in the way he just seemed to pop up at random moments and just the flimsy way he acted around Jules. I feel that we don’t really see deeply into Roan’s character as Holland doesn’t really go into depth of his character. Liam is probably labelled as ‘the bad boy’ and I feel despite his evil descriptions within the book and how he acts towards Jules, it makes him more interesting and mysterious. He seems to juxtapose his brother as he’s more individualistic and stronger and holds a lot more dominance within the book.
Holland’s fantastical world is not only unique but full of magic and unknown dangers. I did find that there were some holes within the explanation of the world that left me a little confused at moments, but I feel that I either figured it out or it was something small that I could look past. Another thing to set this apart from the majority of the YA books is that it wasn’t dominated by romance – yes there is a hint of romantic relations but Holland doesn’t make this a priority – which I feel makes you focus much more on the politics and the survival aspects within this world.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and cannot wait for the next one!
We open this book in Jules’ small town struggling with her father’s debts. Her friend, Amma, is the one who alerts her to the fact that the palace are looking for more servants for the Queens arrival (I feel this is the part that reminded me mostly of Red Queen). Our first glimpse of the royalty is of Ivan and I feel Holland wrote this scene in a very enticing way. She describes Jules’ fear well and we, as readers, can’t help but feel cautious of this character. But Jules’ strength shines through as she fights against one the men, as he tries to touch her and I feel that proves her as a rather heroic character as despite her feat she wouldn’t let anyone touch her.
The mythology within this book is also one of mystery and intrigue. The way its woven into the plot makes it very intense and hard to piece together what will happen. The symbolic imagery of the snake and the fox captures the rivalry and the slyness of the sorceress and the alchemist. But the whole picture isn’t revealed until the end and I feel that is why the ending was very shocking as I didn’t expect it. I know the fact that Jules can stop time was a huge clue that she wasn’t normal but Holland did a good job of building it up so that Jules was the Alchemist. I also loved how despite his evil introduction, Liam ended up being someone who was trying to help Jules and I finished the book wanting him to go with her, so I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes.
Now one sad thing about this book was the deaths. First we lose Pehr which was a really heartbreaking scene to read, as Jules’ denial makes it much more emotional and also reading from her perspective makes you feel as if you’ve lost him too. But I feel this wasn’t the most brutal death scene. I was shocked to see Caro as the Sorceress, because although she was a rather suspicious character I enjoyed her friendship with Jules and I feel that made her betrayal that much bigger. I have to admit when she killed the Queen I wasn’t that fussed but when she slit Roan’s throat I was so shocked. Just no. I didn’t see it coming and it was written so bluntly and quickly that it made it more dramatic. The ending was probably the best part of the novel and it was written extremely well.
No. of pages – 361
Publication date – 4th January, 2018 (Orchard Books)
Rating – 3.5/5 stars