"It always started like this: a pulse inside me, like a warning before the tide surged, roared... and froze everything. The bum had raised my beer to his lips; golden drops remained still in the air above his open mouth. The tourists stood paralysed mid-stride. The children's grins were empty masks; their legs were coiled, ready for a jump that wasn't coming, like birds about to fly away. The cars and the buses had stopped. Over the suffocating silence, all I could hear was the blood drumming in my ears, my neck. I staggered back, buried my face in my hands."
Emma has a secret: sometimes time stops around her, and she is the only person aware of what is happening and able to move while everyone else is frozen. She doesn't know why or how it happens and as she grows up she stops telling people about it so they don't think she is crazy. At the age of twenty, she is a high school dropout working as a waitress. She saves up her wages to go to Rome and meet her estranged father but instead she runs into her perfect half-sister, Lily, who is there working on an archaeological dig for a mysterious organisation called Katharos. She also keeps running across a blind hobo named Faust, who seems to know all about Katharos and the stone table they have unearthed, which is covered in symbols they seem desperate to translate. Faust also might be the key to explaining Emma's strange experiences with time.
Still is an original young adult fantasy novel. It makes a change to read a story like this set in Rome, and I liked the interesting spin on Faust's story: minor spoiler- he is the Faust, of Goethe and Marlowe, though this is a different version of his tale in which he bargained not with the devil, but with Chronos the titan.
The characters are engaging and the dialogue is fun. The plot drags a little in the middle, but it gets there eventually. Don't expect a neat and tidy ending, because Still is the first in a series, to be followed up with Still 2: Bride of Tartarus, which is expected to be released in October 2018.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published: February 28, 2018