- The Good: Modern fairy tale about magical sisters and their fight for survival in a magical land
- The Bad: Similar protagonists and complex rules
- The Literary:Alternating POVs, perspective, timelines, and chapter countdown
Four little girls, half-sisters by magic, uncover their elemental powers in Everwhere, a land of mists and fog, muted colors, and ever-falling leaves. But at the age of thirteen, the sisters forget their special powers, their relationship to each other, and the existence of Everwhere overnight. Now, on the eve of their eighteenth birthdays, Goldie (earth), Liyana (water), Scarlet (fire), and Bea (air) begin to rediscover their strength.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the quick perspective rotation through the five protagonists in each chapter. In addition to the four sisters, the reader gains an additional perspective of one of the magical brothers as he tracks down Goldie. Since very few character viewpoints describe overlapping events, the chapters fly by. Tension successfully builds as chapters count down the span of a month towards their eighteenth birthdays, with frequent flashbacks in time. I also really enjoy the climax of the book, when the girls finally figure out who they are and are forced to fight for their lives before they really understand their powers. It’s surprisingly empowering and feminist.
While I appreciate the multiple POVs, there are some elements that don’t work for me. First, the ambitious yet confusing shifts in perspective—some characters are written in first person, some in third, with an added omniscient narrator in second person. Second, the all will become clear in time quick switching between four female characters of the same age and voice is very difficult to keep track of, especially in the first half of the story. Eventually the personalities coalesce, but you’ll want to pay attention to the characters’ hair and skin color. Goldie is white, blond and blue-eyed; Liyana from Ghana has black hair and skin; Scarlet is the fiery white red head; and Bea is the brunette latino with brown skin.
The girls do come from different economic backgrounds, the fixtures of their lives are drastically different, and they are each subject to their own dose of real life, including neglect, abuse, and exploitation. But their voices are virtually indistinguishable in the first half of the book. I think it comes down to their character arcs. Each is trying to survive, ignorant of her own power, but none wants anything specific. Except maybe Goldie, who is the sole provider for her little brother— she stands out as the strongest.
My last gripe is about the magical rules, which are intricate but not satisfying. Instead of adding to the story, they seem randomly convoluted for the sake of being complex. Everwhere can only be accessed through certain old gates throughout London and Cambridge at 3:33 AM on the night of a new moon. The girls were allowed to discover their gifts until the age of thirteen. On their eighteenth birthday, they must fight to the death with their magical brothers, who have been training since their own thirteenth birthdays. These sisters and brothers in magic are all offspring of their father, a demon, who will celebrate the survivors only if they decide to turn evil and serve alongside him. Why set all these rules, evil dad?
Recommended as a young adult feminist fantasy for fans of short chapters!