- Page Count: 336
- Release Date: January 2, 2018
- My Rating: 5 stars
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.
Every so often I find a book that I simultaneously want to shove at everyone I see, yet also keep hidden & secret… because I just love it SO MUCH? I really don’t have the right words to explain how much I adored this entire story. It’s easily one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve ever read and totally a new favorite!
Jules lives in a world where time is drawn from blood and forged into the currency of blood-iron coins, which the wealthy drink to live longer. This isn’t just an idea that’s casually thrown into the story like some interesting seasoning, though. The whole concept is fully explored and so deeply ingrained in every part of the story that it becomes…. aaah ok I really can’t even begin to describe how real this whole world became. It was SO fascinating, though!!
The book description is pretty accurate, so I think I’m just going to say what elements stood out for me. First of all, the writing is just amazing. It was almost mesmerizing at times and flowed really well. And the worldbuilding was complex, yet done so well that it felt simple. And I LOVED the winter setting so, so much. And the kitchens (yes, I’m predictable).
But for real – this book seriously did everything right! I never once had to suspend belief to get into anything and never wanted to read faster or have the story go back to spend more time on something. The pacing was absolutely perfect. Everything unfolded with just the right amount of suspense to keep me invested but didn’t withhold info so long that I stopped caring. I don’t even know this author but I want to hug her.
I know most of my review is talking about what the book didn’t do, but I think it worked so well for me that it really highlighted what’s been lacking in many other books I’ve read lately. I’ve been wondering if I’ve just read too much YA fantasy and can’t properly enjoy a book anymore or something. But this was EVERYTHING I wanted to read and I don’t have a single complaint (except maybe that I don’t have the sequel right now).
There’s a hint of a slow burn hate-to-love relationship with a brooding guy that’s perfectly set up for the sequel, but Jules and her journey of self-discovery are the main focus in this book. There is zero instalove or time wasted on any love triangle. And I was expecting the main plot twists, but that honestly didn’t matter in the end because the fun of the story was more in seeing how everything fit together.
I totally loved Jules, too. She was completely believable, actually had agency, and all of her actions MADE SENSE. She never once irritated me and I was genuinely invested in her story. The fact that time does weird things around Jules never seemed like any special snowflake trope, either… especially by the end. I also liked that Jules had relationships with characters of all ages (like an older woman and younger boy in the kitchens). And it was so great to see how even the side characters felt like fully developed, complete people.
The story vaguely reminded me of Red Queen at times (which I loved). But if you’re not a fan of that series then just ignore that comparison because this really is a wonderfully unique story! I can’t even imagine how many drafts it took to get an ARC that’s this perfectly polished, but I am seriously impressed right now.
Thank you to the author for sending me an ARC.