Having fell in love with covers, and then the blurb, of this duology for a long time, I was happy to finally be able to get round to reading this book last month! If you know me at all, you know that I love YA dystopias and fantasies, so there was no doubt that this was the book for me.
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.
I loved this book, the premise of using time in blood (through a source of magic) was genius, and I want more stories in this world, and with this system. While in some sense this idea is key to the plot (it is certainly the thing that gets it starting), it is more of an abstract connection. I would love to spend more time exploring this idea without the broader magical plot.
I know better than to be afraid of stories
Now moving on from my wishlist, let’s talk about what was actually in the book! I think that the characters are incredibly interesting in this book, as they all see the world through a very narrow perspective at the start of the book, but as they interact with people with different backgrounds more thoroughly, it becomes apparent that they are not given enough credit for the abilities to empathise and learn by both the reader and the other characters. While arguably, most of the characters are kind of stereotypes and cardboard cutouts, I think it is interesting to see which role they are in at the start of the book and which role they are at the end.
Maybe I am a mystery— a secret— that needs unravelling…
I also enjoyed how this book was very much gearing up for a duology in two halves. This book was very much following the tropes and stories of one kind of YA novel (teen girl takes down the established order), but with all of the secrets in the air, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be quite the same as all the other books in that genre. The twist at the end, was semi-surprising but the way it altered the tone and direction of the situation was the biggest surprise, the mark of an author who knows what their readers expect and deliver it in a way that is better than they could ever have hoped for. No this book is not a work of literary genius, but nor is it trying to be. It is a good story for people who read a lot of YA, and for me that was perfect.