The Persephone myth has inspired numerous authors, but those attempts at a young adult retelling which I have read have been ill-considered to say the least. Both of the other two YA adaptions I've read, Abandon by Meg Cabot and The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, involved an intense immediate attraction for the Hades figure. A big part of why these attempts failed is this perversion of the myth, trying to forge an immediate romantic connection between Persephone and a misunderstood version of Hades. Well, sorry, but that just does not fly. One of the main elements of the Persephone myth is that she is taken and that she is kept. If right from the beginning she kind of wants to hang out in the Underworld, the author's kind of missing the point.
All of that lead up is to say that I think Brodi Ashton hit the nail on the head with the Persephone myth. Of course, she put a lot of twists on things, but a lot more of the core of the myth remained. Though Nikki doesn't hate Cole, who is not Hades but one of the Everliving who lives in the Everneath, she does not trust him either. He did take her there and he did keep her through the months, with her having no say once she let him in a little bit. Cole has a proper amount of darkness to fill this role, and Nikki begins with a sort of weakness I identify with Persephone.
Actually, I loved just about every single thing that Brodi Ashton did with her reworking of the myths. Instead of the Underworld, we have the Everneath, a land populated by the Everliving, humans who have found the secret to eternal life, and Shades, ghosty type things. The Everliving survive by feeding off of the emotions of humans on Earth, but have to bring a particular human to the Everneath every hundred years to Feed. This human is a Forfeit, and once they've completed their service, they are buried in the Tunnels to power the Everneath. It's a wee bit confusing, but mostly just creepy and awesome. Ashton puts a fascinating and unique twist on not just the myth of Persephone, but also that of Orpheus and even incorporates mythologies outside of Greek too.
Nikki, Cole and Jack are the only characters to receive any real attention, but, thankfully, Ashton does a marvelous job with them. Nikki very much has her own way of being, and feels quite real. She is not the most sympathetic heroine, quite passive and depressed much of the time, but she has a core strength, one that she's slowly finding. Seeing her slowly unfold, like a flower after a long winter beautifully matches the arc of the tale. Because of her coldness, I did have some trouble emotionally connecting with her, but I very much appreciated her as a character.
With the listing of Cole and Jack, you might be worried about yet another love triangle, and I do suspect things are heading that way. In Everneath, though, I hardly felt the romance as a main part of the plot. Much of the time, Nikki is too drained of emotion to feel anything. She doesn't trust Cole and is unsure what she wants from her ex, Jack. Their interactions are complicated, and all of the emotions are well established and believable. The closest comparison for the romantic arc in this book is definitely Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.
What Left Me Wanting More:
My only real complaint is that I would have liked even more of the stellar world building. During the dramatic opening scene, Nikki declares her desire to go to the surface, Shades fly at her, and then she wakes up in a convenience store. Yes, this is dramatic, but it made no sense. Then, all of a sudden, she seems to know the terms of her sentence up above, but, if some of the things she knows are explained to her, I missed them. I want to know every single thing about this world, and I feel like sometimes some information was kept back from me.
The Final Verdict:
If you enjoy original takes on mythology, Everneath is most definitely worth your time. From what I hear, the second book, Everbound improves on the beginning established here, so I most definitely recommend that you give this one a try.