Everneath, by Brodi Ashton
Nikki Beckett is an unusual heroine; she has already fallen farther than she had ever imagined possible, down beneath the earth, in a place called Everneath. She has been there for a hundred years, trapped in the Feed, losing her emotions to feed someone else’s immortality. Nikki is unusual in another way as well, for after a hundred years, she should be drained, gone, ready for the horror of the tunnels, but somehow she has survived, somehow she has won the right for some time on the Surface, a second chance at goodbye–even as those hundred years turn out to be a few months on the Surface, still long enough to make her family and friends despair of ever seeing her again.
Everneath is Brodie Ashton’s debut novel and a modern interpretation of the Persephone and Euridice myths. The book finds its centre in Nikki, a girl who made a terrible choice out of a sense of loss, and now finds herself forced to lose all over again, with just six months to say goodbye to everyone she knows and loves. The most terrible part of all of this heartbreak is that Nikki chose to go, she went to Everneath of her own free will; she left them, and now she will have to leave them again.
Nikki was drawn to Everneath by Cole, an Everliving who fed off her emotions for a hundred years, who wants to bring Nikki back to the Underworld and use her to claim the throne. He is a mysterious figure, unapologetic for using Nikki (or Becks, as she likes to be called) and her emotions to continue living as an immortal, but he is convinced Becks could help him gain control of the Underworld, and a hundred years together is time that cannot be forgotten. Cole is a threat to everyone Becks loves, and he could break their hearts by revealing her fate, that she must disappear again in six months, and this time it will be forever.
Whatever allowed Becks to survive the years underground, it is deeply connected to Jack, her boyfriend, the one person she loves more than anything in the world. But the time she has spent in the Everneath has fractured her relationship with Jack, and with her best friend Jules, and Becks struggles with the reality that time is running out, and she may have to leave forever.
Ashton does an excellent job of setting up a world and a premise that feel real. Becks, for all of her otherworldly problems, is still a teenager, deeply in love with her high school boyfriend and missing her best friend. Her father’s reaction to her disappearance, and the rest of the school’s suspicion of a girl who just vanished, ring true and help make the supernatural elements woven into the story feel anchored. It seems important to also mention the cover art, which is truly gorgeous and manages to evoke the sort of power Becks might find in the future novels in the trilogy. Make no mistake, even though her fate seems sealed and dark, Becks is heroine to be reckoned with, and the next book in the series can’t come fast enough.