As soon as I heard the premise of Everless, I knew I had to read it. Even with all the events surrounding Christmas, I still got home and read until the early hours because it was completely compelling.
The novel is set in a world where time is literally money. Your time – an hour, a week, a year if you’re very unlucky – can be extracted from your blood and bound to iron. People pay their rent, barter for goods and buy food with blood iron, and those who haven’t gathered enough by the time rent is due must visit the time-lender, who will bleed more of their time from their bodies.
While the poor get poorer, living short, difficult lives, the elite families who own the land get wealthier, and live longer and longer as they consume the time of the poor. It’s at once far removed from our world and really not so different at all.
A brilliant concept is only the beginning, though; fortunately the idea is well executed, and becomes only a cog in a bigger mystery.
Jules Ember lives in a village belonging to the wealthy Gerling family. When she realises her father is running out of time, she wants to sell her own. He forbids it, and so she applies for a post at the Gerling estate – Everless. The Gerlings’ son, Roan, is about to marry the Queen’s daughter, and assisting with the preparations will earn Jules a year for every month’s work.
Jules is no stranger to Everless, however. Once a servant in the estate, she and her father fled ten years earlier. It’s a big risk to return, but as Jules goes about her duties, trying not to be recognised, she soon learns there were more secrets than she ever knew.
As well as a bold protagonist, there is a host of intriguing secondary characters, from the Gerling brothers to the Queen herself, and many more besides. I want to avoid spoilers, so I can’t say too much about the plot or character development, but both are brilliant. The author builds the story layer by layer until it’s so much bigger than you ever anticipated. Read everything carefully!
My only slight criticism of the plotting would be a red-herring-esque side story that isn’t explicitly resolved. This might happen in a future novel, but it would have been a bit neater here.
I really wish I could get into the details as there is so much I want to talk about, but suffice to say you should read it, and then please message me to discuss! If you’re a fan of YA fantasy, you’ve probably already got this on pre-order; if you haven’t, I can assure you it will be time well spent.
Everless is a fast-paced, original, fantastic debut, and I’m impatiently awaiting book two already.
Everless by Sara Holland is out in the US today, and will be published in the UK on Thursday.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Orchard for the ARC!