With a football player for a boyfriend, lots of friends, and a spot on the cheerleading squad, Isobel has it all. Now if she wasn’t so close to flunking English. Because if she does, she’ll be kicked off the squad and miss Nationals. That’s why she’s a little worried when she’s paired up with mysterious, Goth/emo Varen Nethers for the team project. Turns out that Varen is just as loathe to be teamed with Isobel, but their professor insists that there’s no trading allowed. So Varen and Isobel come to an agreement that the project will be on Edgar Allan Poe, and Varen will do all the research and Isobel all the talking. The dislike is equal on both sides until Isobel’s possessive boyfriend Brad finds out she’s making excuses and sneaking around to work on their project together. This is when the bullying starts, and instead of taking Brad’s side, Isobel defends Varen. Suddenly outcast from her group of friends, Isobel spends more and more time with Varen. It’s when she finds the strange writing in his notebook that she first begins to warm to him. But then the dreams come, and she starts feeling and seeing things that shouldn’t be possible. Soon enough she discovers Varen’s created a world with his mind that may trap him forever if she doesn’t find a way to reach him.
Nevermore surprised me. From the popular mean girl cliché to the paranormal world Kelly Creagh has so thoughtfully and painstakingly created using the works of Edgar Allan Poe, I was impressed by the depth and originality of it all. From the beginning I knew there was more to Isobel - the girl who truly liked cheerleading for the athleticism of it and is the #1 flyer on the squad. The partnering of two high school students from different cliques to work as a team is very Twilight but I knew that would be the only similarity. Turns out that was enough to hook me, and for the most part the 500+ pages flew by. I loved Varen. He’s cold, internal, and doesn’t feel like he needs to respond when addressed. The slow development of their relationship from hate to misunderstood to friends and more is compelling. So is Creagh’s usage of Poe’s works – with which I’m not all that familiar. She’s done her research and it shows. In addition, her lush writing was arresting at times. Take this passage:
“Time froze. Her heart ceased to beat. Her eyes fluttered shut.
The cool slip of the small metal loop pressed into her skin as he kissed her. Urgent. Gentle. So slow.
Sweet, soft demolition.
He tasted of cloves and coffee. And of something else. A faraway essence, familiar and yet somehow foreign, too. Something sere and arid. A little like smoke. A little like decay.”
And a review of Nevermore wouldn’t be complete without discussing the nightmarish figures of the dream world. The enigmatic figure Reynolds and the startling bird-like, decaying creatures of the Other are truly chilling. Though somewhat confused in the latter half – when Isobel crosses completely into the otherworld – and badly missing Varen in the latter fourth which made that section plod, I read their reunion with a fluttering heart. Varen and Isobel individually and as a couple are Creagh’s real strength. Ending as it did I would’ve been seriously disappointed – but little did I know Nevermore is the first book in a trilogy. And since I didn’t get nearly enough of Isobel and Varen, I’ll certainly be there next January when Enshadowed is released.