Release Date: August 14th 2012 (AUS) | August 7th 2012 (US)
Publisher: Atom (AUS/UK) | Philomel
Add it: Goodreads
Thanks to: Hachette Australia for the review copy!
Discover where the Nightshade series began. . .Ember has always known that she owed her life to a mysterious order of Knights who saved her as a baby. The same order of Knights who called her best friend to service, leaving her behind to play the dutiful daughter.
But shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Alistair returns. Although he seems altered - shadowed and brooding - Ember places her trust in him, knowing that he's her one chance to escape.
Little does she know what danger lies ahead. For this is a tumultuous time, and Ember will soon be caught up in an age-old struggle between darkness and light. Neither she, nor her heart, can possibly survive unscathed.
While set in the same world as her Nightshade series, Andrea Cremer's Rift takes place hundreds of years before Calla and her wolf pack stalk the woods of Vail. Rift follows an entirely new set characters (with a reappearance from a known enemy), and surrounds us with a beautiful new land (hello, Scotland!). If you haven't read the Nightshade trilogy, fear not, because you can easily slip into Rift's stunning tale of daggers and swords, magic and monsters, treachery and romance. Fans of the series, however, will take away something a little extra, as we see what really spurred on the creation of the Guardians (while we see no hint of paw in Rift, there's no doubt that furry tails will someday soon be entering Ember's world) and what divided a once united group, into what will become the Keepers and Searchers. It's one thing to read reference to an event in history, but to view it on a more personal level? To become entwined in the love, betrayal, heartache and action-packed danger these people are facing every day? That makes it all the more compelling, makes history truly come alive.
In Rift's day and age, woman are expected to marry and bear children for their men. They're not permitted to fight in wars and wield deadly weapons. But hidden at the heart of Conatus, there are woman fighting alongside the Guard (albeit, few in number), woman just as strong and skilled as the men. Thanks to a deal made at her birth, Ember Morrow is about to become one of these woman. Ember is thrilled to be free of her father's overbearing reign. She was not born to spin a wheel and sew, or bend to the will of a male. At her core is a blazing spirit, eager to ignite the world. It's hard not to form an instant liking to Ember; her confidence, strong set of morals and willingness to learn make for a mighty and admirable heroine. Even though she's unprepared for the monsters that lay at the heart of the evil Conatus fights, she doesn't let fear overpower her, and stalls tall, stands proud and slashes down her opponents with beautiful courage. She is going to make one hell of a warrior by the end of the series!
Ember trains under the mentorship of Lord Barrow Hess, a man who fascinates and thrills her with his deadly grace and gentlemanly... manliness! You can't blame the girl for falling for him. Unlike Nightshade, there is no love triangle drawing it's geometry in Rift, though there is another man, one who I assure won't be winning hearts any time soon! There's a flame simmering every time Ember and Barrow make interaction, but it doesn't overwhelm the story. It's set to a low simmer, maintaining a steady warmth that gradually builds in heat. When the flames rise up, you're consumed as much as they are, but when the plot demands attention, those flames don't incinerate it's significance. I love the balance of overall plot and romance.
Rift not only follows Ember's journey, but another woman warrior named Eira. This provides an intriguing parallel. Both woman play pivotal roles in the progression of the upcoming war. One is a warrior in training, strong in her values and intent to fight evil; the other is already revered and awed for her deadly skills, but in her beats a heart that craves more. And when the darkness offers that something more, are her morals as strong as her armor? It makes such interesting reading to see how the choices of these women take them on such differing paths and how supposedly good intent can twist into something much more sinister.
Andrea Cremer weaves the perfect balance between action, romance, supernatural, politics and history. You'll easily grow to love Ember and cheer on as she becomes embroiled in an exciting new world that equal parts terrifies and invigorates her. Rift does not fail to deliver everything that makes the Nightshade series such a success, and while the future surely does not bode well for our young heroine, I cannot wait to continue this journey with her!
4/5 Golden Apples!