Ever Rest was very much different from what usually read. This was touching, heartfelt, thought-provoking and beautifully written fiction about music with complicated, flawed, and realistic characters and layered plot.
Ever Rest by Roz Morris
Publication Date : June 3rd 2021
Publisher : Spark Furnace Books
Genre : Fiction / Literary Fiction
Pages : 310
Disclaimer – I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for review. Many thanks to author.
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Twenty years ago, Hugo and Ash were on top of the world. As the acclaimed rock band Ashbirds they were poised for superstardom. Then Ash went missing, lost in a mountaineering accident, and the lives of Hugo and everyone around him were changed forever. Irrepressible, infuriating, mesmerizing Ash left a hole they could never hope to fill.
Two decades on, Ash’s fiancée Elza is still struggling to move on, her private grief outshone by the glare of publicity. The loss of such a rock icon is a worldwide tragedy. Hugo is now a recluse in Nepal, shunning his old life. Robert, an ambitious session player, feels himself both blessed and cursed by his brief time with Ashbirds, unable to achieve recognition in his own right.While the Ashbirds legend burns brighter than ever, Elza, Hugo and Robert are as stranded as if they were the ones lost in the ice. How far must they go to come back to life?
Ever Rest was beautifully written Literary fiction that revolved around a famous pop star’s death that changed band members’ life. The story was about fame, music industry, struggle, band politics, grief, loss, guilt, presumptions, paparazzi, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, and mountaineering life.
Writing was slow paced but it was emotive, and flawless, told in multiple third person narrative from Elza, Hugo, Elliot, Robert, Gina and Steve’s perspective. Past and present timeline worked well making readers know characters better.
Plot was interesting. It started in1994 with Elza receiving news of her boyfriend, Ashten, a famous pop star and lead singer of Ashbird band, lost in mountaineering accident whose body wasn’t found. Almost two decade later in 2012, wealthy investor wanting to revive Ashbird once again by making another alum brought together members of Ashbird band- Hugo and Robert- and Elza. But working together once again wouldn’t be easy. It was interesting to see, if working for album would they get over their struggle, come back to life that seemed stuck twenty years ago with death of Ashten.
This was very much different from what usually read. So it took time for me to get into book and slow pace wasn’t helping but I enjoyed complicated, flawed, and realistic characters and layered plot.
I didn’t like most of the characters except Hugo and Elza but they were all so very human and realistic. Multiple perspective gave more depth to characters giving new angle to events that happened in their life and made it easy to understand them. It also added tension between characters.
Hugo was my most favourite character. At first I didn’t understand why everyone disliked him, even blamed him for what happened to Ashten and what happened to Robert all those years ago, but as story progressed, as I read Steve and Hugo’s perspective, I started to like him. I knew things and life hasn’t been fair to him and still there was the mystery of what happened on Everest as he was with Ashten during the accident which wasn’t revealed until near the climax.
But even without revelation, it was easy to like him. We see his loyalty to Ashten, how this man coming from small village, made name for not just himself but also for Ashten as well. He was responsible, wise, brilliant, humble, and compassionate. I loved the way he gave away all his earning to help people who worked on Everest, as rescue and guide. He even gave up on his career to live life on mountain, training and helping mountaineers. I agreed with his thought towards all other band members and even that investor. My heart went out to this guy when he told his story, his life in hometown and with Ashten, and how he still lived with his guilt and loss. It all poured out into songs he wrote. I desperately wanted fair and happy ending for him.
Elza was interesting character. I didn’t have any feelings for her for half of the story. The problem with her was, she was few words person who didn’t let her feelings show or shared her thoughts easily and everyone around her made assumptions about her and her feeling which made it hard to see who she really was and how she really felt. She kept a mask around everyone and even with Elliot, whom she recently met and was in relationship with. I even wondered, if she truly knows who she was. I still don’t get her but I understood what she wanted and how truly Ashten’s loss affected her.
Elliot was also good. He was most honest person of all (after Hugo) who wanted good for every one without expecting anything in return. I liked how oblivious he was to the world of fame until he met Elza and how his life changed after that.
Steve, Ashten’s bodyguard, wasn’t bad but all other characters were super flawed and selfish, specially Robert. I hated him most. He was so self-absorbed and single minded. I still don’t get why he thought Hugo did him wrong and how it slipped from his logical mind that Ashten and Hugo made Ashbird, so it was obvious Hugo would write songs and he can come back or fight against whole band whenever he wanted. I also didn’t like him blaming his failure on everyone else, closing the lid on his emotion than talk about it, and letting Gina think it was her and later Hugo who did this to him.
Ashten was worst of all. I still can’t figure why Hugo stick with him till the end and even after death. It just surprised me how one person could affect so many people in such way. He was catalyst for everything. That guy needed a therapist. He was habitual liar, selfish, self-absorbed, whimsical, and highly competitive. He fed lies to world and made so many people feel worthless just so he could bask in glory. He was nothing if Hugo didn’t come in his life, he wouldn’t have made fame without Hugo and yet that guy was ungrateful towards him, betrayed him, pictured him bad and people still saw Hugo that way even after his death. Karma is definitely bitch but I don’t blame her here. He had to pay for his arrogance, ego, selfishness, and competitiveness in worst way.
Best part of the book was Everest. It was amazing to read about mountaineering, how mountaineers train and acclimatise, what happens on their journey to summit, how hard it is to climb this highest peak of the world and fragility and frailty of humans against the nature and mountains. I enjoyed reading Hugo’s thoughts on mountaineering, what people suffer, and his and Ashten’s journey to the summit before the accident.
I also liked the layers of paparazzi, media making life of famous people hard and complicated, philanthropist and charity twisting the activity to benefit out of it, and true picture of music industry. I’m not surprised famous people quit after certain point to have normalcy in life.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting in climax. I did expect them to discover body but I wasn’t expecting it to be turned into yet another media frenzy and selfish gains. What secondary characters did after climax was surprising and shocking. End was so sad for Hugo but it was made beautiful by his song and the way he combined two songs.
Why 4 Stars-
Pace of the book was biggest minus point for me. I was expecting slow pace but this was too slow to the the point that I wanted to put down the book often.
Overall, Ever Rest was touching, heartfelt, thought-provoking and beautifully written fiction.
I recommend this if you love,
book about music and bands
flawed and complicated characters
life of fame
music industry and its politics
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