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...
OPINION: 4 STARS
Though slow to start, once Everneath picks it up, it's gripping and imaginative. There is stellar characterization in this one, not just for Nikki but Jack and Cole as well. Nikki is a fantastic character to root for, someone who knows the mistakes she's made and is hit with several moments of rough realization about the choices she's made and what lays ahead for her. The way she has to pull herself back together after being returned to the Surface, and the steady strengthening of both her character and her body and emotions is a notable aspect of the book. Jack has a sweetness to him and despite the mistakes he seems to have made, he's endearing and memorable. Then there's Cole, one of the most well done 'bad guys' around, with an intensity and inherent charisma to him that will have readers torn between melting and kneeing him in the crotch. With hints of something possibly good lurking underneath a dark and dangerous exterior, Cole goes beyond the typical paranormal guy trying to seduce the girl. Genuinely believing in what he does, but also clearly fond of Nikki even if not always for the right reasons, he is definitely a favorite character for me.
I really like the concept behind this one, and the way it's executed. Though the ending is predictable, it is still potent and a bit breaking in all the right ways. With some mystery built in, but also a very heavy emotional element, and not just because Cole literally feeds on emotions, once I got into this one, I couldn't put it down. Perfectly tied up to work as a standalone, but having plenty of room for great stuff to come in the next installment, Everneath will leave readers in a good place while also ensuring they'll be drooling for more. Ashton does a fabulous job of bringing in the mythology and twisting it to something that is very clearly her own, without anything seeming wrong or too convenient. With a heavy character focus, yet story driven as well, this one is likely to appeal to even those readers who prefer an internal story as much as it is those who love the new worlds that paranormals offer.
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 24, 2012