Evernight has a very classic romance set-up. Our hero, Will Thorne, is contracted to kill our heroine, Holly Evernight. Even though he’s a super-human vampire-demon, Will fails because he’s completely made of metal, platinum specifically, and Holly is Magneto can manipulate all metals. They end up inextricably linked because her touch is literally the cure to his madness–in a previous book, Will was captured and experimented on by a fallen angel, and, it turns out a captive Holly, and had his heart replaced with a clockwork one, which he “rejects” constantly, turning his whole body into living metal, AND, if that weren’t enough, the process also drives him insane.
Too far fetched? Maybe. But, for a romance, it’s a lovely conceit. Our romantic couple don’t really like each other, but to keep Will alive and to solve the mystery of who sent him after Holly, the two of them have to remain as physically close as possible, preferably touching.
You can see how the sexy times practically write themselves….
The setting for Evernight is everyone’s current favorite: the age of steam, Victorian England: corsets, clockwork, and waistcoats, oh my!
I might have enjoyed Callihan’s book a bit more if I hadn’t picked it up right in the middle of the kerfuffle surrounding that annoying Victorian couple.
By now, I’m sure almost everyone has read something critiquing Sarah A. Chrisman’s lifestyle choices and her self-righteous article about it over at Vox. In a nutshell she and her husband, Gabriel, are historians who spend their days journalling with antique fountain pens, lighting oil lamps, putting ice in their icebox, and generally play-acting at rich society life in the late-1800s.
The internet has already ripped through all the unpleasant historical facts that the Chrismans ignore, so I won’t repeat all that, except to say: nice for some.
Reading through the various diatribes reminded me why I generally tend to dislike steampunk: They gloss over the icky parts of history. It’s all lifestyles of the rich and famous and none about the rest of us.
At least in most steampunk novels, including Evernight, it’s understood that the author is intentionally selling you a well-dressed fantasy. I mean, we’re talking about vampire-like demons with clockwork hearts. This is not reality. Thus, we will not be dealing with all the disease, imperialism, racism, poverty, and sexism of the era (except where sexism translates to some kind of funky version of chivalry), but instead be focusing on the pretty clothes and maybe some cool, “retro-futuristic” Industrial Age clockwork equipment that makes no practical sense whatsoever. I guess that works for the vast majority of the people who really love steampunk–and in science fiction/fantasy fandom, they are Legion.
For me, I tend to have the same problem with steampunk as I do a lot of time-travel romances, which is I don’t get the appeal of going backwards. For someone who gave up dresses as soon as I had the option, corsets and petticoats sound like living hell to me. I also tend to prefer a world where slavery has been abolished and women have the right to vote. I like my flush toilets, electric lights, and modern medicine.
I mean, to be fair, it is meant to be a fantasy in Evernight, so I have a little more forgiveness in cases such as these if authors just want to cherry-pick the very best and prettiest parts from the lives of the rich and landowning. Romances are, at their core, daydreams and fantasies, and the fantasy of sexism is that you get to be taken care of by someone strong and capable–someone who defends you against all threats and who treats you like a precious possession. The fantasy of a rigidly stratified society is that you get all the pretty dresses and a maid to help shove you into them.
Having a maid (and a butler and a plethora of servants to command) is a perfectly reasonable fantasy for any woman (or, let’s face it. anyone who has to clean house). Also, a super-hot, white-haired metal vampire who will literally die without your touch? Yeah, if that sounds good to you, that’s cool, too.
Especially since the sex scenes in this book were very hot.
My only warning if you chose to pick up this book is that it’s the fifth book in the Darkest London series, so you may want to start with Firelight (though there’s also apparently also a prequel novella called Ember) unless you’re crazy like me and can just roll with dropping in mid-series.