by Andrea Cremer
Series: Nightshade Prequel #1
Publication date: 07 August 2012
ATOM, Paperback, 455 pages
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.
Rift is the first prequel of the Nightshade trilogy by Andrea Cremer. It is set in the 15th century so I did not really see the link with the original trilogy at first but still enjoyed it as the idea of the story is very original and fascinating. I mean, how many current YA books are set so long ago and is related to the Templar Knights? I admittedly don’t know much about these knights but slowly understood them as the book progressed. Ms. Cremer’s writing is impeccable and I found the way she made Conatus operate crazily cool. This might be a little spoiler but it has nothing to do with the plot: the warriors in Conatus get personalized weapons based on a sort of vision they get and they do not choose their mounts, instead, the horse will ‘choose’ them.
As for Ember, flawless. She’s feisty yet thoughtful, an unusual combination in a YA book as most protagonists are usually extremely headstrong and hence, can sometimes be quite stupid. The clueless impression Ember gave at first was reasonable since she barely knew anything about Conatus. However, clueless does not mean useless. Ember knew when to stand up for herself and when not to, showing her maturity and ability to handle situations by using her brain. Although Ember can be the tough warrior she’s training to be, Ms. Cremer still displayed the girly side of her, which made Ember really lifelike.
This next character, Barrow, is quite a mystery. He’s stalwart, strong and silent, ‘Cryptic’ must be his middle name. Like Ember, I found it hard to gauge his personality as he so seldom shows his true side. This was slightly bothersome but I tried to overlook it and grasped what I can from the little bits of the real him I saw. Barrow can be really sweet to Ember but that’s rare and hence, I was doubting throughout the story about whether they would end up together. Their relationship was the subtle kind, where their love for each other just slowly creeped in and grew. It was actually better that way because in their situation, there’s no room for overwhelming, explosive romance and wooing.
The other characters in the book also play a big role in the plot, especially Alistair and Sorcha. I love it when the sub-characters are not there just for the sake of being there. It really gets on my nerves when authors do that because having unnecessary characters can make stories really messy. As for Eira, I disliked her from the start. She’s selfish, narrow-minded and too stubborn for everyone’s good. If Eira is a character I’m supposed to hate, then kudos to Ms. Cremer for a job well done.
The plot was good overall but rather anticlimax. What should have been the climax was quite disappointing as there was significantly less action than I would have expected. This made the entire story-line a little flat and hence, unsatisfying. There were many loose ends which I’m pretty confident would be tied up in the next few books. However, the lack of information left the story hanging a little too much.
All in all, I expected more with regards to the plot from Ms. Cremer but was thoroughly impressed by Ember and the sub-characters. Barrow could also have used more development because the mysterious guy thing was a slight overkill. Although not the best book I’ve read, I would still recommend Rift to any lovers of paranormal & romance genres.