The Everspring is an incredibly enjoyable comfort read with magical storytelling and adventurous imagination that is perfect for cosying up with, especially when it’s chilly outside.
Author: Joshua Gillingham
Publishing Info: 2nd November 2022, Crowsnest Books
You know when you really fancy a particular dish and it’s just as good as you’d hoped? You savour every mouthful and sit back when finished – warm, content and at peace?
That’s the feeling the Everspring gives. It’s a real comfort read.
What is a comfort read to me? Well, mostly it has to be something imaginative and magical, that you can curl up with in a chair with and become immersed in the story.
The Everspring is the sequel to The Gatewatch and what I like is that both books are their own self contained stories, so you feel like you’re beginning on a new exciting adventure for both. There is of course continuity and a wider story at play, but I enjoyed being able to just pick this up without feeling like I’m being dropped back into the middle of something.
Gillingham bases the world on one of Norse mythology, but with his own stamp. There is no mistaking who wise Odd and thundering Orr are, and the Jotun are self explanatory.
By not actually specifically referring to the real spellings and in some cases names of people and aspects of the real mythology, the author gives himself some creative breathing room. We all know who the namesakes are (or are heavily inspired by) but it keeps you immersed in the world of the story, when there are deviations from real world mythology. It just works. You get a feeling of it being different but noticeably familiar and I think that adds to the comfort read aspect too.
If you are familiar with some of the Norse stories, you’ll also notice some borrowed elements turned on their head or subtle changes and I enjoyed this creativity.
This technique also means someone will still really enjoy the book who has absolutely no knowledge of Norse mythology – they’ll actually enjoy it in different ways as although they won’t pick out the references, they’ll be able to experience this Norse inspired world completely fresh.
I enjoyed how the author has captured the Old Norse mindset and woven that into the culture of the madur (humans) in our quest, best summed up by this quote:
The faint may flee both sword and spear
And run when battle’s roar draws near
Yet still the swiftest Time shall slay
So grasp at glory while you may
The majority of the story and it’s strengths come completely from Josh Gillingham’s imagination though, before you start to think the borrowed elements are what holds it together. The glue that binds it is the great group of characters, beautiful imagery and sense of grand adventure – which has been perfected here.
It helps having read The Gatewatch too, but it was in The Everspring that I really started to love the characters and get a feel for who they are and what’s going on in their heads. Grimsa again provided the comic relief, but I felt there was more depth and sense of camaraderie to the characters relationships with one another, which made them even better to spend time with on the page.
One of the big strengths of the book is the pacing. Everything you read is interesting, entertaining or necessary. This in addition to chapters that aren’t overly long means the book just feels really readable. It certainly flew by for me and bore the mark of a good book – I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it, looking forward to getting back to it. The added presence of the Jotur and an expansion of the history, races and cultures in this magical world added that extra sparkle, as did an exciting and intriguing quest to find the Everspring. Despite the pacing being finely tuned and well controlled, there is still space for lovely passages that really make you feel the northern cold, taste the enticing feasts and smell the forests. Gillingham is adept at being able to immerse you in the world and transport you to the setting. I never had trouble with my imagination when reading his prose and this really helped to make the book such a delight.
I couldn’t write the review and not mention a superb return to a battle of riddles! It was something I adored in The Gatewatch and is again fantastic here – the riddle chapters from both books are two of my favourite scenes from any book and are so well written. This scene, but also the overall style, just gave me that warm fuzzy feeling of fully being able to relax in a book and just enjoy it. I loved spending time with Torin, Wyla and Grimsa, I loved the magical feel and the atmospheric descriptions. I loved the extra layers to the overall world yet a fully rounded and satisfying story arc.
Sometimes you don’t actually notice something about a book until you come to review, and that’s certainly a benefit of reviewing. Here, I realised I thoroughly enjoyed a book that didn’t really have any adult themes. No swearing, sex or over the top violence. I’d feel perfectly happy recommending it to a 12 year old, yet it never feels like a children’s book. It’s just a great read, regardless of labels. I guess I can only compare this feeling to the Hobbit – the magic and the story, just the whole feel of it is enough to make it a great read. It’s a book I remember likening The Gatewatch to, and although I’d generally prefer not to compare, I do feel it’s necessary to offer a favourable comparison to the same book with The Everspring, too. In the best possible of ways.
Before I finish, I just want to comment on what a fantastic cover this is. I loved the cover for The Gatewatch but love this even more – it perfectly sums up the book but looks absolutely fantastic too. I read this arc on ebook, but I know buying the hard copies is only matter of time, because these covers are so beautiful.
Overall, The Everspring is a fantastic book that keeps a tight hold of the most enjoyable elements of The Gatewatch and builds your love for this series with depth, craft and the book equivalent of sitting in a soft armchair with a warm blanket and a nice drink while it snows outside the window. Excellent stuff.
Torin Ten-Tree’s debt of service as a trollhunter in Gatewatch has been paid. Now he must decide whether to return home to take up his father’s seat in Ten-Tree Hall or to become a Greycloak of Gatewatch along with Grimsa and Wyla. Torin grapples with an unexpected revelation, the long-hidden identity of his mother, just as a delegation brings urgent news of King Araldof Greyraven’s grave and sudden illness. Heirless, the Greyraven’s death would plunge the land into chaos as the Jarls of Noros entered a struggle of succession. The last desperate hope to keep the realm from wreck and ruin is the legend of a powerful source of healing, the Everspring. Yet, greater questions and graver answers await Torin and his company on the road north through the land of the immortal giants. As long-forgotten secrets are unveiled, they learn not only the cause of the Greyraven’s illness but the insidious origins of the evil that first spawned the trolls in the wild woods beyond Gatewatch.