I was about 13 when Twilight first hit shelves and became an international sensation, making yours truly a Grade A, prime market specimen, target customer for every supernatural teen series to arrive in my local Books-A-Million, and as a teen I cheerfully fulfilled those market expectations. Even now, barreling rapidly towards my 30s with all the supposed maturity that that entails, I still love a good urban fantasy/supernatural romance/vampire thriller to take my mind off the real world for a few hours.
What I mean is that for well over a decade, I’ve read a lot of this genre. Cozy mysteries, earnest teen dramas, steamy and/or gory adventures, the 19th century foundations of the genre, modern research about the genre—shelves and shelves of vampires.
So when I say that R. Raeta’s Everlong is one of the most poignant, beautiful vampire stories I have ever read, those are not words written lightly.
The novel is written with the limited 3rd person omniscient perspective, a fancy way of saying that we, the readers, know everything our protagonist knows without the explicit “I” narrator. For some authors this would create some distance between the protagonist, the exquisitely drawn Lily, and the audience, but Raeta is not just some author.
With the deft touch of a true craftswoman, Raeta draws the reader into Lily’s mind, making us feel as she feels- something that becomes more and more important when a major shift occurs and Lily “awakens” maybe a third of the way through the narrative. This mental “awakening” is one of the clearest examples of ‘show rather than tell’ that I’ve just about even seen, grounding the reader immediately in the fresh eyes that Lily sees the world with, and letting us know that something intrinsic to her psyche has crystalized.
I know that this description lists towards wishy-washy, but to explain in more detail, or describe a greater length, would be to spoil one of the biggest delights of the reading the novel.
The friendships and romantic relationship that bud and build throughout the novel feel real. Every secondary character is textured, with their own linguistic and habitual idiosyncrasies and layered backstories. There is a care given to crafting the supporting cast that many authors would not give, or would not give in a standalone novel, but rather over course of an entire series.
Because that is another thing that sets Everlong apart. In a genre that thrives on expansive universes and sequels that stretch on ad infinitum, this is a contained novel. There is a definite ending to this story, and oh honey is it an ending.
Bittersweet in the best way and perfectly suited to the tale Raeta has told up until this point, I once again cannot say more without the risk of spoiling your experience.
A masterclass in how to build a story and a world that readers will care about, and the reason of my first 2AM stay-up-to-finish-the-book session in months, Everlong does not disappoint on any level and if this is only the freshmen outing for Raeta, I can’t wait to see what she does next!