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This issue’s cover illustration is from Brian Wildsmith’s The Hare and the Tortoise (© Brian Wildsmith 1966) published by Oxford University Press and re-issued in 2007 (978 0 19 272708 4, £5.99 pbk). Brian Wildsmith’s work is discussed by Joanna Carey in this issue. Thanks to Oxford University Press for their help with this March cover.
Macmillan have placed this book squarely in the highly lucrative teenage horror market – a heavily stylised dark matt cover with the title overlaid in silver script signals its contents in no uncertain terms. Add characters with names like Ever, Haven and Damen, spirits, psychics and immortals and the picture is resoundingly complete.
Ever survived a car crash in which her family were killed and which left her with psychic abilities and the constant companionship of the spirit of Riley, her dead younger sister. Ever is unable to cut herself off from the babble of people’s thoughts and the intimate knowledge of their lives until she meets and falls in love with Damen, an immortal who she eventually discovers she has met repeatedly over several lifetimes.
Evermore would have benefited from a more ruthless editorial input. Its set pieces are often repetitive and still further repetition is provided by a chorus of minor characters explaining the significance of the action. On several occasions, the story fails to successfully walk the fine line between fantasy and incredulity, undermining reader confidence in the narrative.
The book is clearly intended to be a page-turner and there is little weight to its themes – missed opportunities abound. Characters are too often stereotypical and their dilemmas provoke few sympathies. The dialogue seems to accurately echo the language patterns of the American high school student: ‘I’m totally cool with it. Pinky swear.’ with its idiosyncrasies and irritants and rarely rises above this level to allow richer contemplation of characters and events.
Noël intends Evermore to be the first of six books in ‘The Immortals’ series with an additional series devoted to Riley. I have no doubt that there will be readers who will welcome this but I cannot help but feel concern at the paucity of such a literary diet.