Everless by Sara Holland
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Page Count: 368
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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.
What if the person to be feared is me?
Sara Holland’s debut novel will transport you to a dark and twisted world where people pay with time. This eloquent and beautiful story enchants, surprises, and shows you that Sara possesses a raw talent YA readers have been waiting for.
Jules Ember, along with her father, left her life in Sempera, a ruthless kingdom where the elites, the Gerlings, extract time from the poor so that they will prolong their own lives. As she discovers her father is dying, she decides to find her way back to this city where she was forced to leave because of a deadly secret. But as time reigns supreme, she uncovers secrets that may threaten her and the people she loves.
Sara has amazed me with her writing, storytelling, and world building. I don’t always find a YA that keeps me hooked and makes me want more once I’ve finished reading. But Everless does just that. I actually need the sequel. She hauntingly portrays how cruel this kingdom is. And the originality of her storytelling impresses me. I rarely say that about a debut author. She sets up Everless as a slow burn with hints of romance and some action injected in periodically. And I must say that Everless reminds me why I love YA.
Sara weaves together the past, present, and future into this spellbinding fantasy filled with political games and deceit. Time is currency, and you will discover that the rich always thrive, and the poor suffer. She brings a realism to her book by introducing a two-tiered society. The poor will give up their remaining years, which is extracted from their blood and turned into currency, so they can feed their families or pay the rent. What strikes me the most is how the aristocrats, who hoard these time coins or devour them to lengthen their lives, are often oblivious to the consequences of this currency. The parallels between this realm and our own society leap off the page.
This atmospheric YA also offers some treats. The mythology is the highlight of the story, as it guides the narrative along. And as the story progresses, I fell in love with these multi-dimensional characters. Poverty has shaped Jules into who she is, yet her quiet demeanor draws you in. I often find the quietest voice to be the loudest. The two Gerlings brothers, Roan and Liam, are polar opposites. I do not trust Roan though. Yet Liam, the brother Jules originally fears, is the hidden gem I surprisingly like. The relationship between Jules and Ina Gold, the Queen’s ward, is outright refreshing. They both love Roan, yet they aren’t fighting each other to win his love.
Everless unsettles yet allures you. Secrets, plot twists, deception, and hidden family history shape this debut novel into a stunning and compelling series. I cannot wait to see how Sara concludes it.
It’s possible to feel joy and grief at the same time. It’s possible to look forward to the horizon while mourning what you’ve lost.