Rift by Andrea Cremer
Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!
Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.
With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.
If I'm completely honest, I didn't love the first book of the Nightshade series. I think I had been reading too many books about werewolves, vampires, paranormal, and all that. I was a little burned about and a lot uninterested. Plus, I really liked Ren as a character and was tired of the strong and steady guy always getting left behind for the "new and dangerous and mysterious" guy. I read the first book over a year ago, and didn't bother with either of the sequels until recently.
However, when I started hearing about Rift, I thought it was worth reading. It sounded like an interesting prequel to the story, and I love finding out what happens before a book is set, if that makes sense. So, I picked up Rift at the library and dug in. (I'll also freely admit that I totally judge books by their covers and I loved the cover of this book. Dark-haired, kick-butt heroine? Yes, please!) What interested me most about this book was that it was about magic and mystery, not about werewolves! Set in the past, full of castles and knights and promises and covenants, Rift is nothing like the Nightshade series to me. Ember, the heroine of the story, is strong and powerful and the kind of girl I used to pretend to be in my backyard. She doesn't want the safe, normal life. She wants to be a warrior, fight for good and make a difference in the world. I immediately felt a kinship with her.
Ember is a fully-realized character. She has flaws and is a little too headstrong. She doesn't realize exactly how unique she is and she falls in love with the "wrong" guy. But, through all that, she has a sense of what is right and what is wrong. And, despite her fears, she wants to fight for the right. I loved that Rift talks about the magic in the world that the average person may not see. Rift is about the unseen forces at work all around us, and those forces are dark and light fighting constantly. Rift creates a world where those forces are real and believable. The setting is authentic, fitting in with any other book set in the time period. The rustic setting, void of technology, forces characters to interact in a way that is more and more unfamiliar to us these days. Sometimes I would much rather live in the past, without the constant ding of cell phones and email!
As good-hearted and passionate as Ember is, her counterpart, the dark Eira, is equally well-written. Eira doesn't start out seeking Bosque Mar or the darkness he brings; she just wants to make something more of her life. She is dissatisfied, impressionable, and a little angry. She wants to be part of something, but that something that is so tempting ultimately becomes her downfall. I think we all know people like that or people who are on the verge; the choice is hers, and Eira chooses, but she chooses what ultimately leads to destruction of the world she loved.
Rift is different enough from the Nightshade series that I would recommend it, even if, like me, you weren't a huge Nightshade fan. Author Andrea Cremer writes fully-realized worlds, from the grass on the ground to the thin veil between the worlds of good and evil. I would recommend this one for anyone who enjoys fantasy, paranormal and romance.
About the Reviewer
About Emily: Emily Bedwell is a lover of all things written. She can quote Shakespeare and Maureen Johnson in the same sentence and not think a thing about it. All her earliest memories involve reading books, writing stories and sharing those stories with others. That first story involved a very large bubble and a strong wind. It was the first time she remembers making her mom smile with something she wrote, and it solidified a dream for her. When she was a teenager, all she wanted to do was read "grown up" books. Now that she's an adult, she loves nothing more than sitting down with a YA book and getting lost in another time, another place or another world.
Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana
"Real" Job: Business & Communications Manager
Dream Job: Children's/YA Librarian & Author
Books Always on Her Nightstand: The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is one of my favorite books. I read it at least once a year. There is something so powerful about Jonas, the Giver and the world in which they live. This is the first true dystopian I remember reading, and it still haunts me to this day. I can't help but compare every book I read to The Giver! On Writing by Stephen King. King's memoir on how he became a writer is so simple and so profound at the same time. It's not a traditional writing book, but it reminds me that there is a reason why I love good books, and why I want to write good books. There is a point where he talks about life supporting art that changed the way I viewed so much of what I do in my life.
Favorite Authors: The list is too long to write, but I love Kiersten White, Maureen Johnson, Stephanie Perkins, Andrea Cremer, Beth Revis, Maggie Stiefvater, Aprillyne Pike, Stephen King, Jonathan Irving, Cervantes and so many more!
Why YA? There is something about YA literature that speaks to me. These are quality books that tell real stories, and they tell them in unique ways. There is drama, and there is darkness, but there is also laughter and light. I think there is something redeeming about YA literature -- for the characters, the authors and the readers. I'm really way more interested in a quality story than the "suggested" readers.
When I'm Not Reading, Working or Studying: I like to spend time with my husband, Tim, and our chihuahua, Madi. I love to laugh with my friends, go for long walks around Bloomington and travel. No matter what I'm doing, though, there is always a book within my reach!