Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!Quick confession time: I've had a copy of Rift since ALA Annual 2012. At the time, I was desperate to read it. However, once I got the ARC, my anticipation died out for one simple reason--I was afraid of reconnecting with the Nightshade world. I still haven't gotten over the events of Bloodrose (Nightshade #3), specifically a certain character death, so I was pretty weary about starting this book. To my surprise and utter delight, Rift holds very little connection to Andrea Cremer's original plotline except as an explanation of how that world came to be.
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.
Protagonist Ember Morrow will do anything to get away from the married life of a noble that her parents have planned for her. Fortunately, her life essentially already belongs to a society of sorts referred to as Conatus. As a result, Ember's path crosses with that of Barrow Hess, one of the most skilled knights of Conatus. I absolutely adored Ember's spirit--her name definitely suits her. If you've seen my most recent Special Someone Saturday post, you already know how much I love Barrow. In terms of being a couple, Ember and Barrow are very much equals, and that's what I love about their relationship. They constantly encourage and challenge one another, but they're also very much connected on an emotional level.
Regarding revelation of how the Nightshade verse came to be, Rift was nothing like what I expected. The Guardians (shifters) have yet to come into existence; in fact, the Keepers and Seekers are never even mentioned. That being said, I still enjoyed it immensely. I love being taken by surprise, and I definitely didn't see the connections between the two worlds until they were right smack on the page.
Two big things that I loved about Rift were the fact that, despite initial impression, it does not contain a love triangle, and that the prequel series is only a duology. The changes in perspective were nice, though I would've appreciated a bit more insight into Ember's mind. I most definitely can't wait to get my hands on Rise, the next and final book in this riveting set of prequels to the fantastic world of Nightshade.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars