Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Simon and Schuster, 2012. ISBN 9780857074577.
(Ages 15+) Recommended. High school student Nikki Beckett has been missing for six months, but to her 100 years has passed. She had fallen under the spell of the charismatic Immortal Cole, whose race uses humans as Forfeits, taking them to their realm of Everneath and feeding on their emotions. Nikki inexplicably survived the usually fatal experience. Because of this unusual situation, she is given six months reprieve back on the surface. Before leaving she is presented with two choices; become an Immortal and help the amoral and ambitious Cole take-over the realm of Everneath, or be consigned to the never ending darkness of the Tunnels, held captive by the terrifying Shades.
Bereft of any real sensation or feeling, except for the image of the boy she left behind, can Nikki change her destiny and overcome the power of the elite Immortals? Her only hope lies in unravelling their secrets, and the clue lies in re-engaging with her former life and Jack, the boy she loved. To further complicate matters, Cole has followed her back and uses his ability to control others emotions to force her hand and stack the odds in his favour.
This is a modern twist of the Persephone/Hades myth, as well as having echoes of Orpheus and Eurydice. The Immortals have always been with us, using and manipulating humans to suit their own nefarious purposes. But as Nikki struggles to regains her sense of self and with the steadfast Jack at her side, there may be cause for hope.
This is a very engaging book, told in a series of flashbacks to the time before Nikki met Cole, and to the present aftermath of that experience. It is an exceedingly enjoyable race against time, with twists and turns, a fascinating premise and interesting characters; very mysterious and chilling. It is also a reflection on the price that some people are prepared to pay for power. I very much look forward to the next book in this series.