Foster siblings Josh and Ksenia have caught the eye of Prince, a centuries old Fae who will do anything to escape the monotony of life in the Other World. Their passionate and enduring love for each other will provide Prince and his beautiful cohort with lasting entertainment, sustaining their life force and allowing an outlet for their cruel tendencies.
When Josh goes missing after meeting the beautiful creatures, Ksenia fears the worst – Josh could be dead and no one would ever know. Determined to find out his fate, she goes to the local authorities, only to have them accuse her of murder. But then Josh reappears, leaving the town questioning where he went. Never to allow themselves to be separated again, the pair must fight for their freedom from the reign of the Fae in their secret world. But the question is, can they escape Prince’s spell before they are stuck forever?
Before I say anything regarding the book itself, look at this damned cover. It is ominous and intriguing and was honestly the main reason I requested this novel. I had heard of Porter’s previous works but couldn’t quite remember whether I had read them in the past (I read A LOT and only recently really started using Goodreads. Don’t judge me). Once I saw this cover and the blurb however, I was sold regardless of the quality of the work. But on to the review!
Ksenia and Josh are in love, she is 18 and about to be forced out of foster care, while he is 16 and determined to never be without her. They are siblings but also something more. Ksenia says nothing can happen until he is 21 and sure of his feelings, a nice gesture but one that Josh refuses to take. So he decides to take matters into his own hands in order for them to never be apart. While it seems kind of like a temper tantrum on steroids, its more a Joe Goldberg/Silence of the Lambs ‘it puts the lotion in the basket type’ deal. He is a man obssessed masquerading as a desperate teen.
When Josh disappears for a second time, things get complicated and Ksenia dies. But not really because otherwise there would be no book. Instead both are kidnapped to the world of Faerie, a carbon copy of their neighbourhood that is essentially the same but altogether more sinister. Like the sprites that exploded from Ksenia’s hat and built an extra storey onto their childhood home that cant be accessed because the stairs forcibly expel anyone who attempts to climb them (completely normal right?). It’s weird and confusing; for the first 1/4 of the novel I was pulling random faces at my Kindle and loudly exclaiming that I didn’t understand what was happening…
After the first portion/point of view, everything becomes more sensical as the narrator is now their friend Lexi. This is a woman who will not take no for an answer. She is strong and determined and refuses to believe that she didn’t just see a dead guy walking down the street who totally disappeared into thin air. I really liked her and she is what carries the story for quite a while. Even though her friends have ‘died’ along with a whole swathe of others from within the neighbourhood, she refuses to believe it, especially when she somehow magically speaks to Josh on the phone. I actually really wish the majority of the novel was from her point of view because she is all things friend goals and sass.
What is a grave, if not a doorwayAlternate Ksenia to Sennie
Now if you are starting to think ‘this sounds really weird’, you, my friend, would be correct! In Porter’s signature style, she bends reality and leaves the reader in that space between ‘ooh I love it’ and ‘what the hell just happened because I swear I missed something’ until around half way through. I want to add here as well, if you went into this novel as a cover buy and didn’t read the blurb, there is never actually a mention of the antagonists being Fae. They can trap people, lend their magic for misdeeds and trick you into making bad choices but I mean, so can vampires and djinn… The main giveaways would be the food and the changelings but if you weren’t seasoned in folklore, you would be hearing crickets and wondering how people are going through portals and riding horses made of steam (just saying).
Initially, I absolutely hated the Fae of this tale. They reminded me of that scene in The Lost Boys where everyone is all ‘they are weird but so pretty!’ and just assumes its because they are popular. The Fae are pretty and abstract but not really of any substance to start with. Prince, who one would assume is the main antagonist from the blurb, is literally barely even in Never Contented Things except for a few not so critical scenes and the occasional mention. I was disappointed until I realised another villain was going to take centre stage.
This brings me to Unselle, my absolute favourite character of the entire novel. She is beautiful and nasty and has a mink head that comes to life and bites people because why the hell wouldn’t you want your dress to eat the onlookers. At first I thought she was an innocent bystander obeying her masters commands. By the end, I felt kind of like maybe she was calling the shots. She is literally everywhere and performs all the horrible deeds of the piece. I am not sure if this was an accidental thing or Prince was meant to be a distraction from what was really going on, but I swear she is actually meant to be the main villain (don’t like it, prove me wrong).
Now as I mentioned earlier, there is a change of POV multiple times throughout the narrative but not your usual alternating every few chapters. There are massive chunks from a single POV and then it suddenly changes for no apparent reason. But, after the second change, I actually began to like it. Each narrator had their thing to say relating to the progression of the story and each was prefaced with a lovely verse of prose which more or less gave an indication into what you should be expecting.
Overall, the story was both confusing and satisfying at the same time while also seeming to not come to an official end. I was left wondering what happened to everyone even though all the ends were seemingly tied up. Yes, I am still confused about the first portion but it all came together by the final pages. While it is a tale of enduring love and hardship, it is also about friendships and making choices for the greater good. It was not perfect but definitely above your average YA fantasy.
Never-Contented Things releases world wide from Tor/Macmillan on March 19th 2019 and is Porter’s seventh full length novel.