Nightshade Prequel, Book 1
August 7, 2012 | Philomel Books
ARC provided by publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
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.
It was a huge surprise when I received an advanced copy of this novel. I haven't read Cremer's Nightshade series, so I was glad to discover that Rift is a prequel and it isn't necessary to read the previous stories prior to beginning this series. So I dove right in, not sure what to expect, and now find myself eager to read the next installment.
A brave, strong-willed heroine, a sweet romance, and a group of warriors who secretly battle dark supernatural foes are all a part of what make Rift an enjoyable debut in a new must-follow series.
I was immediately drawn in by Ember's character and her struggles with a life that presented her with very limited options. Being a young woman, it is expected that her father will choose a man for her to marry. It's also assumed that she will be content with bearing his children and maintaining their household. But Ember is a free spirit with a passion for weapons and battle. The idea of a sheltered existence in a lord's manor leaves her desperately longing for a way to escape.
Fortunately for her, a childhood friend, Alistair, returns home with an order that requires Ember to depart with him immediately. Her father owes a debt based upon an agreement that was made with Conatus many years prior. Members of the Guard have been sent to collect what was promised, his 16-year-old daughter.
Ember is introduced to a world that she never imagined existed. It's a world where hungry revenants wait for you in the dark, kelpies lurk beneath the waters' depths, and winged creatures have a craving for the flesh of young children. Equally disturbing is the idea that the true purpose of the warriors who are trained to fight these creatures must stay hidden or they will be destroyed by the people they protect.
The story occassionally switches to Eira's point-of-view, a member of the Circle who represents the Guard. Eira's bitterness and resentment lead her down a dark path and I enjoyed reading about the circumstances that guided her there. She makes several awful, unforgivable decisions, but still manages to be oddly relatable in many ways. I can't wait to see how Eira's actions will affect everyone in the series' sequel.
Although Rift had a beginning that quickly drew me in and an ending that had me heartbroken and on the edge of my seat, I found there were a few times in between where it wasn't quite as attention-grabbing. Also, Alistair often appeared at very predictable moments, especially when Ember was with her mentor, Barrow. I couldn't help but to roll my eyes each time he reappeared. I'm a big fan of love triangles, but I think this novel would have been equally as enjoyable without the tension that these triangles are made to create. But I will say that it has made for some interesting developments that I anticipate will greatly affect the next story. I'm expecting a mad sort of determination from a certain someone who has difficulty accepting no for an answer.
Fans of romance, historical fantasy, and strong female characters will enjoy this first installment in the Nightshade Prequel series. Rise is scheduled to release January 8, 2013.