Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.
Evie’s only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie’s feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.
Thoughts: I’ll be honest. When I first saw this book, I figured it would be another blah YA novel dealing with paranormal romance. Then I read the back and had to admit that okay, it had kind of an intriguing plot, so I’d give it a chance.
I’m glad I did.
The early parts of the book wasn’t particularly grabbing, and annoyed me more than anything else. The pacing seemed badly done, giving the backstory as a first-person exposition. But it was done in such a way that I couldn’t really get a feel for the character. It came across as, “Things such but I’ll stay strong, and I have to go to this boarding school to please my family even though I don’t want to, and I’ll miss my grandmother, and HOLY CRAP THERE’S ACTION ALL OF A SUDDDEN!”
I realize that the backstory was put in there to avoid the reader having to sit through an entire chapter of it, but it felt so rushed and removed that I actually think I would have been less bored if the first chapter had consisted of nothing but Evie’s discussion with her father about her grandmother’s health and going away to Wyldcliffe.
But once I got past that messy introduction, Immortal quickly turned into one of those books that has me looking up every once in a while and wondering just where the time went. The plot that unfolds is interesting, the premise decently original, and the hints that are dropped are enough to make the reader suspect and theorize but not quite know how it all fits together fully until much later. Not quite a Rowling-style adept at making literary puzzles, Shields certainly still manages to do a good job with her plot and its mystery.
I was quite happy to see that the love story in this wasn’t as contrived as some I’ve read this past year. Stories in which two characters fall head-over-heels in love and ignore all sense and reason are in vogue these days, and aside from an initial “tugging behind the ribs” sensation when Evie first meets Sebastian, their relationship actually developped quite well, starting with some forbidden midnight outings and eventually progressing to admissions of love, with some misunderstandings and spats in between. It felt real, not rushed; complete, not contrived.
I also enjoyed seeing Evie’s struggle with learning to use her newfound magical abilities. So often in books you have a character who can use magic and everything comes as naturally as breathing. There were such characters in Immortal, yes, but Evie wasn’t one of them, and it was due to the kind of emotional blockage that makes sense to block something like magic (at least by my way of thinking).
Ultimately, Gillian Shields seems to have a real talent for visuals and for interesting turns of phrase, as well as for weaving a YA storyline that I can really sink my teeth into. I look forward to seeing more of her work!