Author: Andrea Cremer
Genre: YA, PNR
Publication Date: August 7, 2012 (Penguin – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: 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.
☆: 4/5 stars – an awesome prequel, and I can’t wait to read the second book!
Review: I found this to be an interesting departure from what I’ve come to expect from Cremer as her usual fare, and it was a pleasant surprise. I’m glad this prequel is only going to be a duology, and I’m really looking forward to the adult erotica releases in the same universe, too. With “Rift”, there are no love triangles (YAY!), no wolves, just a medieval, arcane bunch of knights (and witches) that eventually become all of the factions we know of in the “Nightshade” trilogy – the Seekers, the Keepers, and the Guardians. I enjoyed this foray into the past, and now I can’t wait for the second/last part of this duology, “Rise”.
For those looking for the fast pace of the previous trilogy, you might be disappointed by the first fourth of the book (despite what the blurb says). I found that this book was written in a very different way when compared to the trilogy, and the pace was pretty slow up until Bosque Mar and Eira become the two main characters. I think this is due to the fact that Cremer was laying down not only how things worked in 15th Century Scotland/Europe, but giving us more information on Conatus in terms of its origins and its inner workings. So within the first fourth of the book, I’d say there’s a kind of a big info dump, but with her fantastic abilities with sensory language and imagery, Cremer weaves all of this in very, very well, so it didn’t feel like a complete brick to the head with information. There’s a lot of historical stuff to be laid down and substantiated, but I felt like Cremer did a great job, even with the slow pacing.
Ember is a great heroine, but for the first fourth, it felt like more a narrative of everyone in Conatus until she begins her training for the War office. It’s at that point that, along with Barrow and Alistair, she really comes alive. The lack of a love triangle is awesome (and Alistair becomes a warning of what the true nature of “the boy next door/the ultimate nice guy” might really be), and really refreshing. Once Ember becomes active, the pace starts picking up, and you really want to cheer her on. You want to punch her father in the face, and you want to join Conatus, yourself. That’s how much fun this book is.
And then, there’s Bosque Mar. We learn where he’s really from, though in “Bloodrose” we got some pretty solid hints. When he offers his services to Eira, a frustrated lady knight and part of Conatus’ Circle (governing body), we finally kind of get back into the prose and pace we all know and love from the “Nightshade” trilogy. Cremer does a great job with fleshing out all of the important players of Conatus, especially Eira, and sets her up to be a fantastic villain by the end of the book. While her eventual downturn into revenge and destruction isn’t really a surprise (or hidden very well), the final act that throws her over the edge and onto Mar’s team is absolutely fantastic (and gruesome) to read. Cremer didn’t disappoint me at all with her Big Bads, and you can definitely bet that I’m chomping on the bit to see how the three separate factions will arise out of what Conatus used to be.
Can I also just comment on how awesome the details (like the weapons and clothing) are? I want Ember’s weapons. They’re awesome. The way Conatus helps you pick your weapons is awesome. Can I just join them now, please?
I could go on, but I won’t. “Rift” is out now from Philomel/Penguin in North America, so fans of the “Nightshade” trilogy (yes, even you who are bitter after the ending of “Bloodrose”) should definitely run out and get a copy. It’s definitely worth the wait. In the prequel category of things, it lands a spot in my best of 2012 list so far. It’s definitely worth the read, so be sure to check it out. The best part? You don’t need to be a previous fan to read these books to understand what’s going on. Definitely recommended!