OK, first things first. What a beautiful cover!
The book graced by this lovely cover is Neverwas, the sequel to Amber House by mother-and-daughters team Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed. In the previous book, teenaged Sarah Parsons altered the past to save the lives of her younger brother and her aunt.
As Neverwas begins, it becomes clear that Sarah changed more than just that. The entire United States is different from the one we live in — in fact, there is no United States per se, but several loosely connected countries, and Amber House is situated in one where racial segregation still exists. Meanwhile, in Europe, Nazis reign. “WTF?” you might ask. What did Sarah do in the past that messed up the entire world this badly?
That’s the question Sarah herself must answer in Neverwas, as memories of a life in a better timeline begin to surface and conflict with her other set of memories. On the heels of that question come two more: How can she fix it? And can she fix it without losing the loved ones she saved the first time?
Sarah’s personality is a little different this time around, since she was raised in a different environment. I liked first-book Sarah better — and when second-book Sarah finds out about her alternate, more intrepid self, she likes her better too and wants to be more like her. Her partner in trying to save the world is Jackson, who is amazing (the choice he makes at the climax just dropped my jaw). The two of them face trouble on their quest due to their racist and sexist environment, which surrounds them with restrictions and dangers.
Like Amber House, Neverwas is an addictive Gothic tale that’s hard to put down. I do not recommend reading it without reading Amber House first, as it will be confusing. I do recommend framing the cover!
Amber House — (2012-2014) Publisher: Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that’s been in her family for three centuries. She’s never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she’s never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls. But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds — and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house’s past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house’s secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.