Published: 2nd February 2012
Genre: Paranormal, Mythology, YA
Recommended Reading Age: 16+
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being 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 months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back – this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s 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…
Everneath is a modern-day paranormal romance inspired by the myths of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice. Mythology is definitely the newest trend in young adult paranormal fiction and Everneath looks to be one of the more promising series out of the several I have read recently.
I quite liked the mythology in Everneath. The concept of Forfeits, the Daughters of Persephone, the Shades and the Everliving was creepy, dark and seductive, a nice twist on several original myths. Everlivings maintain their immortality by feeding of the life-force of human forfeits every hundred years. The Feeding lasts a century and Forfeits never survive the process, until Nikki. Somehow, she holds on to herself, retaining her memories of her human life. Cole, her host, is determined for her to rule as Queen of the Everneath alongside him and takes a bit of a kick to the ego when she decides that any option is better than spending an eternity with him.
Everneath does require some patience to read. Nikki is a shadow of a character, drained and weak, trying to re-adjust to the real world again. She is pretty closed off for a lot of the book, which made her difficult to connect to. Disappointingly, Ashton is also very vague on the details of the Everneath and the whole process of Feeding. Cole is, of course, annoying cryptic on the subject. By the end of the novel some things have been clarified, but the lack of information and visual imagery is frustrating and the lack of action in the first half slowed the pacing right down. Unfortunately, I didn’t care enough about the characters for them to carry the story until things started happening.
There is a love-triangle (of sorts) that plays into two myths. Cole may be the classic, dangerous bad-boy, sexy, charming, with a hint of vulnerability that is so often irresistible, but it’s also clear that his words and actions are geared towards self-interest. He manipulates Nikki’s emotions, plays on her insecurities and vulnerabilities, threatens her, quite literally sucks the life out of her. Their strange, dependent relationship does have the potential to be quite fascinating, Cole is like a drug for Nikki (and vice-versa). She spends a lot of the novel fighting her own desire to be close to him once again, to forget the pain of living. I never got the impression that Nikki was in love with Cole, she’s in love with Jack, but I did see something between them, (though not necessarily romantic). I only wish Ashton had taken their relationship further, and hopefully she’ll do so in the following books. In comparison you have the friendship-turned-romance between Nikki and Jack, which I’ll simply describe as lukewarm. I just wasn’t invested in either romance and really felt Everneath would have been more poignant had Ashton cultivated Nikki’s other relationships in her life, which were severely lacking.
I didn’t dislike Everneath, the problem is that I just found it strangely devoid of emotion. It all felt a bit flat. Nikki chooses to become a Forfeit, she gives up her whole life, damning herself in process, with no thought to the people she leaves behind and I struggled to understand why she did it. As we count down to Nikki’s last day there should have been a building sense of panic, loss and heartache for all the characters and the reader. There wasn’t.
Fans of The Goddess Test and Abandon will love Everneath. But if you’re looking for a fun, modern, more fantasy-like take on Greek Mythology, I would highly recommend the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.