Review posted on Dark Faerie Tales Andrea Cremer is back with Rift, the prequel to the Nightshade series. This time, she goes to the beginning of where it all started. Before the division of Guardians, Keepers, and the Searchers, there were the sisters Cian and Eira. In this historic world, only men fought the battles while women enriched their cultures at home. Young Ember Morrow has been promised to a group called the Conatus, fulfilling her father’s vows from so long ago. But to Ember, it is not duty to be filled, but a calling to answer. For Ember, the call to become a warrior is strong, and becoming a Guard in Conatus is not tangible. Perceptions of the group are unsure for outsiders, but for Ember and the rest of the Guard, it is an honor to cherish the secret. In a time where societal norms are ruled by males, and where expectations of sex and class are not only followed but adhered by, becoming a female warrior in training is unheard of. But Ember not only learns to keep this secret, but she also learns of new ones. There are dark and evil forces amidst the townspeople, some from another world and some unfathomable. But with the help of her mentor and the Guard, she becomes the warrior she has set out to be. Ember Morrow is a strong and courageous heroine, someone who I quickly admired. From the first few pages, I loved her whole being and self-esteem. She has a set of values true to herself, knows her principles, she stands up for what she believes in. Ember has been called a warrior with a lot of talent and promise, and after reading Rift, I believe in her strength. The Guard has several characters that you will love to hate and hate to love. Alistair is her childhood friend. He joins in her journey with the Guard and Conatus. Alistair loves Ember in a way that Ember doesn’t. It brings complications and an overprotectiveness that is unwelcome. Lord Barrow Hart is a knight with all the glory that the title beholds. He becomes Ember’s mentor, training her in the ways of the Guard and refining her natural talent and skills. Barrow earns Ember’s trust and loyalty, paving way to an unbreakable friendship. The Guard, individually and collectively, act as a great supporting character. Individually, they provide ease and hardships to Ember’s journey. Collectively, they provide a strength and companionship for Ember, who is so far away from the comforts of home. Cian and Eira are the sisters who started it all. We finally see their story, the beginnings of the end. Together they rose from a hard life, and together they gathered their strength. Now a part of The Circle, they are seen as leaders. A difference in opinion causes a rift between the two sisters. One views a path of peace, while the other seeks retribution. Set in the early fifteenth century, and taken place in the Scottish lowlands, Rift truly starts where the Nightshade series ended. Cremer has done a fantastic job weaving history and folklore within the pages of Rift, something that she has always excelled at. The pages bleed with cultural details, so believable that their world could be true and real. Neither one knows what they are fighting, for the darkness and evils that attack are from a different world. Cremer definitely brings the dark and mysterious with Rift. She brings a more aggressive tone in her writing and in her characters. It’s very interesting to learn and understand more about the world and how everything started. Rift is definitely about a journey to a distant land and into a new place altogether. With well-rounded characters, a realistic history and culture, and writing like no other, Rift is a must-read for 2012.