Saturday, 3 November 2018


The Rift by Rachael Craw  {Reviewed by STELLA}
If you're going to read one new young adults' novel this year, make it this one! You will be saying “aha” and “yes... hmm…. sure...” - i.e. not really listening or taking notice of the world around you at all as you fall into the setting of Black Water Island, the Rift, and the lives of Cal and Meg. Rachael Craw, the author of the award-winning 'Spark' series, brings us a new intriguing and captivating novel, The Rift. Like her earlier series, The Rift has elements of science and fantasy, richly spiced with action, mystery and romance. Add to this a mythological element and you have unputdownable teen read. Black Water Island, remote and isolated, is a mysterious place - affected by ley lines and electromagnetic interference. Digital and mechanical devices are things for the mainland. It is the homeland of an ancient deer herd that holds a precious and wanted commodity - a medicinal property, Actaeon's Bane, marketed as a cure for all ills. The company who owns the rights and access to the deer’s special property is Nutris Pharmaceuticals - a corporation who don’t always 'play nice'. The Old Herd is protected by the Rangers, a group of talented trackers - one could say eco-warriors - who preserve the herd and keep it safe. Rangers are special - their talents handed down through hereditary lines. They have close relationships with birds, and each ranger usually has their own bird scout. Cal, an apprentice Ranger, is different - a fisherman’s son, he received his position via experience rather than inheritance. Meg, the daughter of the Head Ranger Sargent, left the island when she was nine after a horrific accident. Living on the mainland with her mother Dora, they decide it is time to return so that Meg can claim her inheritance. Planning to stay for only a few days, things go awry when the unexpected happens. It’s the time for the cull and the full moon is due - fortune hunters are beginning to descend on the island, and crossing the water with Meg and Dora is the sinister Jack Spear - an employee of Nutris. The island and the herd have been unsettled for days, and Cal senses that something is amiss. The Rift feels uneasy. And this is where the story really starts to hum. The whole concept of the Rift and the Rift Hounds is fascinating, darkly strange and edgy. Meg and Cal are now almost eighteen and hold a key to something they cannot begin to understand - and will remain mysterious to the reader also (I sense a sequel is on the horizon!) - but, drawn together and attracted to each other, they create a strong and important bond - a bond that helps them to face their fears and pushes them to act courageously when danger and death threaten. There are many layers to this novel: a romance - it will satisfy your desire to champion a love match for these two young people; a fantasy - it will intrigue you with the endlessly complex world of Black Water Island and its mysterious Rift; an action-packed adventure - there’s enough hand-to-hand combat, kick-ass athletics and human prowess for anyone; it is a fantasy which draws on myth and ancient tales will pique your curiosity; and a social commentary on ecological systems, medicine and power - it will kick off ideas and discussion that will give it depth and meaning. Add to that Craw’s adept language, brilliant story arc and great descriptive talent and you’ll be hooked.
I’m looking forward to interviewing Rachael on Tuesday at the launch of The Rift. She is a YA superstar and a local author!

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