Set in a world where your blood and your time is currency. Blood is extracted and bound to iron which is then used to pay debts or consumed to add time to your lifespan. The rich Gerlings tax the poor and seem to live forever, whilst the poor are bled to pay their debts. Jules Ember finds herself in a difficult position. Her father is bleeding his life away to pay their debts, and Jules has a way to earn more blood iron than they could ever need, but this means working for the Gerlings. Jules and her father had lived on the estate previously but were forced to leave after an unfortunate accident. Torn between wanting to save her father from dying to pay their way, and returning to a place which could be dangerous for her, Jules returns to the Gerling estate and finds herself wrapped up in something more complicated than she could ever have imagined.
I thought this was going to be a fairly predictable read. It seemed obvious to me that certain characters would turn out to be something other than what they seemed and that Jules’s story would take a twist. I had even gone so far as to guess the ending. I was wrong. When the big reveals for this story began to appear, they were nothing like what I had expected and I was pleasantly surprised.
The detail in Sara’s writing is exquisite. I feel as though I know Everless as well as my own world and it is a setting which has stuck with me since reading. It reminded me a little of novels like Gilded Cage and The Sin Eater’s Daughter where a rich few control the rest of the population, but where nothing is quite what it seems. The addition of Briarsmoor, a town outside of the estate where time is 13 hours behind the rest of the country fascinated me.
Jules is an interesting character, drawn to Everless to help her father, she finds herself still having feelings for Roan (which is rather unfortunate as he is due to marry the Queen’s adopted daughter, Ina) and trying to avoid Liam, who got her expelled from Everless in the first place. She seems oddly headstrong at times motivated by a need to look after her father, but also by nosiness and determination to discover the secrets that are hiding in the Gerling estate. At other times though she puts herself in danger by being careless and seems to lack respect for her own vulnerability. When she is warned by her father that the Queen is dangerous and he begs her to come home, she turns away from him and applies to be a maid for Ina, which doesn’t seem like the most sensible course of action. I was also intrigued by the fact that time misbehaved around Jules and that when she does try to bleed some of her time, odd things happen.
Jules is the main character of this story, but the other characters are all very well-developed with wonderful and intricate back stories. Liam is a complicated character who fascinated me from the start. Ina has a wonderful history that I wanted to know more about. Caro intrigued me; she was so secretive and revealed so little about herself. There is also the gradual reveal of the story of the sorcerer and the alchemist which is gently woven into the main story and adds a different dimension to the story.
Everless turned out to be a far better read than I thought when I started and I cannot wait for the second installment.