Everneath on Goodreads

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned — to her old life, her family, her boyfriend — before she’s banished back to the underworld... this time forever. 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 precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance — and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is 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 queen.

Everneath falls into the category of those books which improve dramatically as the story progresses. The climax justifies initial expectations, the aftermath makes up for the slow pacing, and the cliffhanger leaves the reader anxious for the next book in the series.

But in essence, and where it truly counts, Everneath is a story about a love-triangle, first and foremost. The mythological aspect promised in the synopsis is very much secondary to that of a renewal of a long-lost romance, and a buildup of a brand, new one. Based on the synopsis alone, I had expected it to be the other way around. From a purely personal standpoint, in stories centered around mythology and ancient lore, I prefer romance to take a backseat to what is actually promised in the brief description of the story we are given (The Raven Boys, anyone?). However, bearing in mind that this brand of paranormal romance is geared towards the young adult crowd and frequently compared to Fallen, Unearthly and Twilight should have been a clear enough indication that romantic aspect would prevail, and that romance would be largely responsible for slowing the pacing to a crawl at times.

My primary issue lay with Nikki, who was not a very likable protagonist. Once her reasons for choosing to spend a century in the Everneath (and risk never getting to return at all) are revealed, her character likability is introduced to the world's largest downward spiral. Prior to the revelation, Nikki is circling apathy and boredom. Following the revelation, Nikki's whole character becomes that much more difficult to understand or relate to. Nor do I think anyone should ever aspire to relate to her on the decision-making level. Her childhood sweetheart Jack fulfills the trope role of a childhood sweetheart well enough, but doesn't go far beyond that. Many have waxed rhapsodic about Jack's many qualities in the past, but on a personal level I felt rather indifferent about him throughout. Cole, while not exactly likable, is by far more interesting than the previous two and has a far greater potential for character development. Even through his less-than-reputable decisions, Cole has managed to keep me intrigued and desirous of learning more about him. Outside of a love triangle, Cole has the potential to become the driving force behind the series as a whole. Having said that, Cole's supposed love for Nikki remained a complete conundrum. I found myself seesawing between thinking it a mere byproduct of convenience (what with Nikki's eligibility to overtake the throne of the underworld, which is plain from the start of the novel), or an entirely inexplicable scenario with no merit to it. The Cole outside of a love triangle feels more wholesome and rational than the Cole within the love triangle. Which brings me back to the original issue.

The mythological aspect should have been given more prominence. Had the entirety of the novel been as captivating as the final 15%, this would have been a gripping sort of five-star read. The final portion of the book is where the mythological aspect of the story finally gains in prominence, and launches the characters into a problem-solving mode. The mythology not only justifies the initial expectations of the book, it also jump-starts the largely dormant pacing. It leads to a belief that the story was unnecessarily long, in the sense that there was too much buildup for the last part of the book.

And if this last part is any indication of what's to come, it is enough to make me want to read the next book in the series, even if the characters left something to be desired. Brodi Ashton has integrated several different pantheons into one, and has made them her own. A modern-day retelling of the myths of Hades and Persephone, as well as Orpheus and Eurydice were made still more intriguing by the level of thought put into them, and by the integration into one, larger myth, full of ways to embrace the darkness and the ways to escape it in turn.