At first glance, Everneath appeared to be a straight up Persephone-esque story. I assumed certain elements would be shifted and changed since Brodi Ashton had tweaked some of the mythology to fit story she’s created; however, I was totally unprepared for the absolutely captivating and unique world she built and characters she presented. I was immediately intrigued by Nikki and her plight and fell more in love with story as it progressed to a beautifully, heartbreaking conclusion.
Nikki Beckett’s been through hell…literally and she’s sent back to earth for six months to say a “proper goodbye” to those she loves. How one goes about doing the whole goodbye thing is just as troublesome for Nikki as it would be for anyone, but for Nikki it’s even more so. While she’s only been gone for a few months on Earth, she’s been in the Everneath for a century. During that time she was literally drained by Cole emotionally and physically which leaves her weak, confused, and extremely broken. While I would have been living life to the fullest, making great memories and trying desperately to prepare for the inevitable 6 month deadline, Nikki flounders for a long time. Rather than use every last second of her six months on Earth, she takes a long time to regain herself. Honestly, this usually annoys me. I like heroines that kick some butt, stand on their own two feet, tell it like it is, etc. So, what surprised me about this novel was how sympathetic I felt toward Nikki and her plight. It took me awhile to figure this one out, but what it boils down to is this. From page one, Nikki has a quiet strength. She has literally been sucked dry emotionally and physically. She is barely able to leave the Everneath and it takes time for her to claw her way back to the person she once was. This shows her inner strength and depth and even determination to not be trapped into what she thought she wanted when she chose to go to the Everneath with Cole. Brodi does a fantastic job showing Nikki’s growth from the literally weak, wilted girl she is at the beginning to the strong, determined leading lady she is at the end.
I also really enjoyed watching this plot develop. Built on a series of flashbacks and present timeline glimpses, the story progressed in a beautiful rhythm. It flowed naturally from one segment to the next and unfolded with just enough mystery to keep me intrigued to the very last page. While I thought I knew what would happen, I was pleasantly surprised by how everything played out.
I really enjoyed Jack, the boy Nikki left behind when she entered the Everneath. I liked his persistence and constant willingness to be Nikki’s rock. The sweetness of Jack and Nikki’s friendship/romance drew me in and made me want to love them together…however, the sympathy I felt for Cole (the Hades character) shocked me. While he’s devious and in some ways manipulative, I could not help but feel there was much more to him than he let on. His stated purpose–to lure Nikki back to the Everneath to take over and be his queen–was obviously secondary to some other purpose. While it’s never stated what that purpose is, it seemed obvious that his feelings for Nikki ran deeper than he’d like to let on. As an Everliving, he feeds off of the emotions of others and is supposed to be unable to have emotions of his own, yet somehow Nikki has reached a part of him that is supposed to be dead. I just couldn’t write him off as “the bad guy.” Believe me, I tried. I wanted to LOVE Jack because he’s just so stinkin’ sweet and good to Nikki, but Cole is just…so…ahhhh…he’s Cole. He’s complex and that draws me in…every time! So, while I liked Jack, I am cheering for Cole and hoping some full-out redemption is in store for that multi-faceted boy. 😉
Overall, Everneath is an intriguing and unique spin on the Persephone myth. Beautifully crafted and wonderfully engaging, Brodi left me eager for more of her world and her characters.