Everless by Sara Holland
|Everless by Sara Holland|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Fabulous worldbuilding and a fresh, original concept in this beautifully written YA fantasy. The currency of Sempera, the blood coin, is tied not to something like a gold standard, but to lifespan, to time itself. Scary, right?!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: January 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Jules and her father live in the kingdom of Sempera. In Sempera, everything is reckoned in terms of time. Wages come in the form of blood-coins, currency taken from actual blood and denominated in weeks, months or even years of life. In Sempera, as you'd imagine, the rich live for a long time and the poor do not. In debt and struggling to afford the rent, Jules decides to ignore her father's warnings and take a job at Everless, an estate belonging to the Gerling family. But Jules's father objects for a reason: there is a royal wedding coming up, between Lord Roan Gerling and a ward of Sempera's queen, and secrets long concealed that, if revealed, would change everything...
I really did enjoy Everless. It has a fresh and original premise, backed up by detailed, thoughtful worldbuilding, so it is both interesting and credible. I really enjoyed the mythic feel of it all. I was absorbed by the world of Sempera and, I think understandably, pretty creeped out by it, too. Imagine the pound coin in your pocket represented a part of your life span. How would that feel? How much would you want to hang on to it? How much more thought would you give to the yawning gap between rich and poor in this world, never mind the one Holland has created? Because right here, right now, in the UK, poor people's lives are shorter than those of rich people. If that doesn't make you think, I don't know what will.
Jules is a strong central character and Holland allows her to develop as an individual. There's a romantic angle in this story but it takes a back seat to the other aspects of the book, in particular narrative thrust and worldbuilding and I thought this was great. And the writing is lovely - rich, sensuous and lyrical but also arresting and powerful. I loved the use of present tense. Everless is a strong read backed up with real quality.
My one criticism is that the end is a little unsatisfying. I felt it was a little bit rushed, especially considering the fabulous stuff that had gone before, and left too many unanswered questions hanging. I would have been as excited to read book two in this series had the ending tied things up better as I am having been left somewhat wanting. I think sometimes authors just need to trust the quality of what they have written.
But this is a nitpick. I loved Everless. It's a wonderful contribution to the YA fantasy genre and I'd recommend it with a whole heart.
If Everless appeals, you might also enjoy the wonderful Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, first in an excellent YA fantasy series.
You can read more book reviews or buy Everless by Sara Holland at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Everless by Sara Holland at Amazon.com.
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