Review: Everless - Sara Holland

Everless by Sara Holland
Series: Untitled #1
My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Fantasy
Expected publication: January 4th 2018 by Hachette

Source: ARC received from Hachette via NetGalley
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.

**Please note that any quotes used have been taken from an Advanced Readers Copy and as such may not be present in the final publication**

...Power has nothing to do with position. Especially if you’re weak.

Everless is a debut YA Fantasy that managed to tick a lot of boxes for me.

☑ Absolutely stunning cover that drew me in even before I read the synopsis
☑ Original and unique premise
☑ Well thought out world building
☑ Well written and immersive
☑ Not entirely predictable

The blurb really explains the premise well - Everless is a world where the time of a person's lifespan can be extracted from their blood and bound to iron and this is used as currency and consumed to add time to another's life. The poor are taxed heavily and give up their life spans for the rich who can, in theory, live forever.

After a slight hiccup in the beginning where the book reminded me of so many of my beloved YA fantasies ( a girl out hunting to feed/save her family in the scary woods that she knows so well) Everless managed to take off and even though there are familiar tropes present Sara Holland has managed to tweak and re-imagine what would otherwise be an all too recognisable and mundane theme. I loved that I didn't immediately pick out the romance and the antagonists which, let's be honest, is pretty refreshing. It was also nice that this first book at least didn't focus on any real romance although the setup is definitely there.

Jules, the main character was equal parts endearing and frustrating for me. She is headstrong and intrepid and was a great YA heroine, but she was also naive and foolish and it was very frustrating when I saw her go against all advice and common sense time and time again. It wasn't enough just to see her thought process while making these decisions - I wanted to feel the motivation and I wanted to be rooting for her choices however I often felt annoyed.

...maybe I am a mystery— a secret— that needs unravelling...

There were a few 'debut moments' where things became somewhat confusing in parts but I'm hoping this will be ironed out in the second book. I also felt that the ending was a bit rushed and too much happened in quite a short time. I can understand the need to prepare for the sequel, but I felt that some things lost their impact because there was just too much going on at the same time. It was less climactic and more of an overload for me.

Despite the abovementioned issues, I really did enjoy this book and I especially enjoyed the first 75% which is why I rounded up from 3.5 stars. Sara Holland managed to weave a world full of small details that really drew me in with the richness and severity of this harsh world. It was a well thought out world and I loved how far the premise was explored with so many little details being intertwined in the narrative.
There was a man in the village we called the Ghost, always with a shiver and a lowering of eyes. A gambler, he bled almost all the time from both himself and his small son, and beat Edwin Duade at a hand of poison—winning two hundred years, enough to restore his squandered time and more for the both of them. But when he arrived home, the heavy purse of blood-iron on his belt, the boy was crumpled on the floor. His heart had given out midbeat. For all his luck with cards and coins, the Ghost had misjudged—bled off too much of his son’s time in chase of fortune.

With chilling scenes like the above - little stories about the world's history - building a dark and evocative picture of the world of Everless, it's easy to find yourself lost in the book with all your senses reeling.

I cannot wait to see where Sara Holland takes us next.

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