Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Quill is his family’s only son. Ever. Dryads have always been grandmothers, mothers, and daughters, but never sons, until Quill. Maybe it’s because Quill’s father is human? Not that it matters. What does matter is the fact that Quill, who hasn’t come into his magic yet, is locked away like a princess in a tower, forbidden from leaving the safety of his mother’s home and the shop where he works, forbidden from meeting humans, going to school, or having friends because it isn’t safe. Until Quill has the ability to protect himself, he’s stuck.

Not that Quill minds. He loves his mother, loves his sister, and loves being in the garden. But when a human tries to break into his room one night, Quill is torn between fascination and fear. Fascination, because the boy — not much older than his own seventeen years — is handsome, charming, and lives in the apartment next door, and fear, because someone has broken into the garden full of magical plants.

Damaging the garden is damaging his mother; his grandmothers are in there, their trees a gnarled grove of protection, knowledge, and love. There are plants there that grow nowhere else in the world, plants that are extinct outside his mother’s garden. There are plants that can kill, or cure any disease, or take away a memory, and fruits found nowhere in the world. And Quill can’t let his mother know it’s in danger. If he tells her about Liam, the boy next door, she’ll whisk them away to safety and he’ll never have a chance to know what it’s like to be … normal.

Evergreen is a well written young adult story with an engaging main character. Quill, for all that he’s going through a spurt of rebellion, isn’t angry or angsty. He’s lonely and bored and eager to see what life has for him. His sister is a magical prodigy and he is both amazed by her and loves her. There’s no jealousy for him, no bitter envy eating at his heart. Likewise, he adores his mother and, for all that he’s keeping secrets from her, she’s also the person he turns to when he’s frightened, knowing she will always be there for him.

For all that the story is seen purely through Quill’s eyes, and the interactions are limited thanks to the book’s focus on the growing relationship between Quill and Liam, I got a very good sense of Quill’s bond with his family by the way he spoke and thought about them, and the fact that many actions he took were to protect them. Quill is a bright, open-hearted, and open-minded young man who just wants to be a teenager like other teenagers. When he and Liam go grocery shopping, Quill — a vegan by necessity, being a dryad — makes no comment, thought, or reaction to Liam having his own food. He’s not judgmental and, honestly, I found him to be the best part of the book.

Liam is the first human Quill’s interacted with, and the first other boy. Quill doesn’t know if he’s gay, pan, or straight; he’s never given it any thought, but he’s not adverse to Liam’s flirting, even if he’s uncertain and shy. And Lima, to his credit, backs off. He still flirts, but he makes it more clear when he’s flirting, makes certain to check in with Quill, who he thinks is homeschooled and sheltered. When Quill mentions that too many people are making him uncomfortable, Liam takes him somewhere quieter.

Liam is in an awkward place as a character because he is made to do an action for the sake of the plot, but he does it driven by character motivations, and he isn’t just forgiven because he did a terrible thing for good reasons. His friendship and growing romance with Quill are sweet, and feel very sincere. As a romance, this book worked for me, but as a story, I wasn’t a giant fan of the ending.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, and I think the story grew naturally based upon the actions and motivations of all the characters involved, but it felt like the ending threw away something important without giving the characters time to react to it, and Quill, who cares so deeply about his family, gave the events a shrug and moved on with his life.

So for me, while this is a fun romance with enjoyable characters, it left me with a slightly unaffordable impression based on upon how the ending was handled. Because it’s such an open ending, other people may have very different reactions to it, and if you give this book a try, I honestly hope you enjoy it.