Sara Holland brings a different vibe to her EVERLESS duology conclusion, EVERMORE!
As Jules Ember roamed the halls of the Everless estate after years away, she suspected there was something not quite right about her life as she knew it. Now, the secret of her identity is out: She is the final reincarnation of The Alchemist, an ancient magical being whom history and religion have painted as an evil spirit. But Jules knows that it is Caro, The Sorceress, who is truly evil after she kills The Queen and Jules’ childhood crush, Roan, to frame her. Now Jules is on the run while her newly discovered twin sister, Ina Gold, is crowned queen of Sempera and Caro sits at her side, plotting the domination of their world through blood magic.
Despite the accusations against her, Jules has one surprising ally: Roan’s brother Liam Gerling, who’s studied The Sorceress and Alchemist his whole life and knows the truths and secrets of Jules’ many lives. The two begin an adventure to unlock the secrets of The Alchemist’s past in hopes of finding a way to destroy Caro, but traveling with Liam is a real danger. Caro believes she needs to break Jules’ heart to defeat her, so her growing feelings for Liam are a major red flag that could lead to both of their deaths. This keeps the romance shimmering low throughout the novel and there’s an intriguing tension there, but we never quite get that explosive romantic moment I’d hoped for. I appreciated the lack of a focus on romance in book one, but anticipated more with the conclusion.
The novel starts right where Everless left off, with Jules running from Caro. There’s some devastation right at the start, followed shortly thereafter by a confrontation and a swift, engaging action sequence in the dangerous territory of the elite. Along the way there are new forms of magic unfolding, new characters to root for including Liam’s dashing foreign friend Eli, who teaches Jules about life outside Sempera, and a true hedge witch who’s reluctant to use her abilities. However, this one still didn’t feel as action-oriented as its predecessor, especially in its second half.
Evermore focuses perhaps a bit too heavily on the centuries-long history between Jules and Caro, The Alchemist and The Sorceress. There are answers to be found in this history, but it didn’t feel like Jules had a mystery to solve like it did in the halls of Everless. Rather, the mystery seemed to be solving itself around her through the happenstance of flashbacks from her previous lives whenever she was in the right place. While I’m not opposed to exploring the complex relationship between protagonist and antagonist, I didn’t feel a real connection to the characters in the ways Holland probably intended because this relationship was barely in play at all in Everless and that’s where I got accustomed to the world. That being said, I still had plenty of feels during the characters’ big conclusion– it was just that the buildup felt a bit tedious.
Meanwhile, I wish we saw more of the relationship between Jules and Ina, who deserves more credit than the story gives her. There are only a few moments between the two, but readers get to see Ina in a new light that I really enjoyed. There’s something innately sweet about their over-cautious sisterhood and the ways their lives intersect leading up to the finale.
The ending of the novel was powerful and satisfying, though a little rushed. The conflict comes to end but there are still plenty of details left open-ended. Holland may not have announced immediate plans to tell more stories within the world of these novels, but she’s definitely left the door open. We definitely wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more from that beautifully constructed world and its characters!
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Evermore (Everless #2) hits shelves on December 31, 2018. You can preorder now via Amazon!
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: not only are the stories true, but she herself 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. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.