In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.
No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.
But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.
Reminiscent of the movie In Time, in the world of Everless, time is, literally, currency. And much like In Time, the system works to keep the poor poorer and with short lifespans while the rich can live for centuries. Only this is fantasy and the time is in their blood, which means a bloody business to sell and make money for yourself. (You’d think it’s only about replenishing blood, but the magic ties to your lifeline – you can only see how many years you have left to live)
Jules, our main character, has to go work for Everless estate to save her father from death. Being back there after a decade (when she and her father were chased off) means she is stepping back into a world she hates, but the thought of her childhood friend Roan consoles her. However, soon the Queen visits the estate and Jules gets caught up in their business – and her plan to get vengeance on the estate have a significant role in the ladder she climbs. Jules is a bit naive and sometimes I really wanted to shake her. She goes into a plan half-prepared and only her ability flaring up to protect her saves her skin most of the time. On a plot standpoint, she is trying to uncover a mystery and that mystery has a slightly Gothic feel to it – there’s this manor and there is a lot of secrecy involved and a vault that is not to be entered.
Time and an age-old story play a part in directing the actions around Jules. The story of the Alchemist and the Sorceress gives most of the details and connects all the weird events in the book, but there are some things which are still left unexplained, like the source of the magic (apparently even hedge witches can wield time) and Jules’ ability to alter the flow of time. Also, first the Alchemist is designated as male in the stories but the names of the Alchemist are all female-sounding? Also, why do the young nobles consume blood iron if they don’t need it (assuming they already know how much time they have in their veins). And more importantly, I don’t think we’ve explored the possibilities of a world where you literally know how much time you have left?!
So, on a plot level, the story is good. But the world building needs more work – it wasn’t until like the last quarter than the economy of blood iron even made sense. And I still don’t get why they had to start to use that as currency, though, if they already had a system in place (presumably) prior to it. As for characters, I think it could’ve been better in explaining the ties between the female characters? Ina feels important in the start and then she is practically out of the picture. As for romance, well, it has little to no romance element. She is interested in Roan but well, he is not the right person for her. Liam felt like another character I want to shake – dude, like how about NOT being so emo and moody? A little communication would’ve done both him and Jules some good.
Overall, it’s an interesting story, and I’m interested in how the events of the epilogue work out. It was certainly entertaining, but also a bit predictable. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the sequel.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Harper Teen, via Edelweiss.