Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Rating: I was not exepecting to be as engrossed in this as I was. Dark, romantic, suspenseful, with the ultimate ticking clock--this is paranormal done right!
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she's returned--to her old life, her family, her boyfriend--before she's banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance--and the one person she loves more than anything. But there's just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki's time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's queen.
Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.
The cover: Prettyyyyyyy. This is one of the best pretty dresses covers I've seen in a LONG time. Love the way the red dress bleeds into the black smoke. Gorgeous.
The story: So the other day I read a book that followed the typical recipe for paranormal romance word for word, but with some wood elves thrown in, and I felt compelled to lay out the Cliche Paranormal Romance Recipe. The best thing about Everneath, in my opinion, is how completely it deviates from that recipe. It keeps all the elements I like to see in paranormal romance--love, darkness, hot guys, and the supernatural-- while presenting them in a totally different structure.
Nikki Beckett (I wonder if Ms. Ashton is a Castle fan) is a modern day Persephone. She's been in the Everneath for six months, letting the Everliving Cole Feed on her emotions and soul. Somehow, miraculously, she survives, and gets to go back to the Surface and her old life for six months. Back to Jack, the ex-boyfriend whose face got her through the Feed, and her family and friends, all of whom thought she abandoned them. But at the end of those six months, she must return to the Everneath and the Tunnels, wherein a dark fate awaits her. Unless she agrees to be queen of the Everliving court with Cole, which she emphatically does not want.
The stakes. They are HIGH. And I love it.
I literally could not stop reading. Ashton does this very clever thing of always mentioning how much time Nikki has left at the top of each chapter, which heightened all the tension a million times over. Another thing I loved about this book is that the Underworld and Hades, aka the creep who kidnaps Persephone in the original myth, are not romanticized. The Underworld is literally hell, and it's the humans who are worth loving. Cole has layers, and attractive aspects, but at the end of the day he's the guy who did this to Nikki and has his own agenda. And I loooved Ashton's version of the Everneath, with the Shades and the Feed and how times moves so slowly. I loved that Ashton incorporated Egyption mythology and the Orpheus myth as well. I would have loved to have seen more about the Eveneath, how it looks, how it functions. I loved what we got, but I wanted more. But I just love the concept. The Everneath is ever-awesome.
You would think Nikki, an emotionally drained, traumatized girl who has ended up hurting everyone who loves her, would be a difficult character to relate to. But I latched onto her so tightly it was almost painful. I felt her emotions. I suffered with her. I was Team Nikki from the get go.
I was also Team Jack. Mmm, Jack. I'm pretty sure guys like him don't exist in high school, but they should. They definitely should. I was afraid he'd be very typical-- he's popular, good looking quarterback-- but his love for Nikki is layered and strong and most definitely swoon-worthy. The Nikki-Jack dynamic is pretty much the entire focus of the novel, with really lovely flashbacks to their relationship before Nikki went under. It provided such a great contrast. You can see how different Nikki is, and how much they've both lost.
|HE'S A GUY.|
My main complaint is how the plot and Nikki pay little service to her grieving family or the loss of her mother. It's a romance, so I wasn't expecting Ashton to skip on the Nikki-Jack angst fest (not a bad thing-- I liked their angst fest), but I felt Nikki's little brother and father were ignored in this book almost to the point of unbelievability. They made a big point about how it was reciprocated love that got her through, but I'm pretty sure her brother and dad also love her. And I'm pretty sure if I came home after six whole months, I'd being doing whatever I could to repair the family relationships first. I swear 80 pages went by where little Tommy didn't even get mentioned. I hope to see more of the Beckett family in the sequel, and hope they finally get their due from Nikki. Ditto Jules, Nikki's best friend, who seemed to exist solely for Jack reasons.
Then there's the-love-triangle-that-isn't. I LOVED it. Cole, our Hades, is fascinating and truly cares for Nikki, albeit in a twisted, selfish way, but he's never portrayed as a healthy romantic option. And Nikki never considers him to be. She's all Jack, and it's nice to see. Nikki doesn't trust him, and she really shouldn't. He's an immortal being essentially stalking her, trying to persuade her to give up and come be Queen of the Everneath. He's darkly attractive, and he makes sure to remind her over and over about the dreadful fate that awaits her in the Tunnels if she refuses to be an Everliving with her.
THE ENDING THOUGH AHHHHH. It made me scream, in the best way possible. I had a feeling it was going to end up there, AND IT DID, and oh my God, it's horrible, but it's got me itching for the sequel, also. Which is always a good thing.
So thanks, Book.
|Two flaming thumbs up.|