Jules confronts the girl who is both her oldest friend and greatest enemy in the highly anticipated sequel – and conclusion – to the Top Ten Bestseller Everless.
Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: She is the Alchemist, and Caro – a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood – is the Sorceress.
The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Now Jules must piece together the stories of her past lives to save the person who has captured her heart in this one.
Firstly I just have to say I’m so happy the UK publisher decided to print Evermore in hardback, the books are beautiful together and also, unusually for me, I re-read Everless just before so I didn’t have to trust my memory for things. As it turns out Sara Holland makes a good job of recapping throughout the story and my re-read served to show how startlingly different the two books are from one another. Where Everless had a slight dystopian feel, Evermore is pure YA Fantasy. The writing feels more evolved than Everless, like there was more on each page. The words didn’t feel wasted and there was a hell of a lot going on. This was probably helped by the fact that Jules’s travels took her farther and wider which opened up greater possibilities with the writing.
Jules’s character develops hugely, as you would expect. The difficulty of reconciling the devastation being wrought in her name, whilst also being hit by wave after wave of her abilities as the Alchemist coming to the fore, is striking for her. I enjoyed the breadcrumb element of this story immensely, the signs of the Snake and the Fox holding valuable memories, gently painting a picture of the history between the Alchemist and Sorceress, each new clue taking Jules closer to the impossible truth. There is a great twist in Ina’s tale which I was glad for as for the most part she has settled into the role of the old queen where Caro’s influence is clear, the tithe one of many tricks and cruelties to track the Alchemist down. It was a shame that Caro didn’t really seem to do much though, her character stays pretty static. World building wise, this is another area which is more accomplished than in Everless, not just insofar as the wider world goes but also with looking back over lifetimes. This for me was very well done, the flashbacks seeping into the present so you’re never entirely clear where one finishes and ends in a great reflection of the conflict Jules is going through. The pace ebbs and flows with some pretty big set pieces early on, which really drew me in and the last few chapters I just couldn’t get through quick enough, it’s a pretty great ending which left me with lots of thoughts.
The frustrations for me however fell within the established tropes that became repetitive. Jules routinely did the exact opposite of what she was being told by those trying to help her, running into danger without a backward thought to the impact on others. I often felt like Liam Gerling spent his days being frozen in time whilst Jules ran away for him then to catch up just in time and for her to meekly apologise. I did also miss the sinister shadow of the blood irons, the time as currency aspect seemed to have been forgotten, which leads back round to my opening that this is far more a fantasy read than anything else.
Overall though I really did enjoy Evermore though and I thought it was a great conclusion to the story.