Gorgeously written, irresistibly compelling, sexy, thrilling and action-packed, Rift is a fabulous beginning to an exciting new series set in the well-known and well-loved world of Nightshade. In this intensely captivating and beautifully written prequel Andrea Cremer explores the origins of Keepers, Searchers and Guardians, drawing the reader in with an utmost skilfully rendered historical world, intriguing paranormal elements, and characters to die for. It's an absolute must-read, and not only for fans of the Nightshade series, but for anyone who enjoys a great paranormal fantasy with subtle romantic elements.
The story centres around Ember Morrow, a daughter of the wealthy and influential Lord Edmund Morrow. Ember's birth was a miracle, and a pricey one at that. Due to unexpected complications during labour, both Ember and her mother nearly lost their lives. If not for the sudden arrival of a healer from Conatus, they wouldn't have survived. The healer's extraordinary abilities saved them, but her help came at a price. And the price named was Ember herself when she reached her sixteenth birthday.
When Ember arrives in Tearmunn (an imposing and well-protected fortress that belongs to Conatus), she is neither scared nor worried, as her dream was always to be away from her father's influence and free to chose her own path. She's excited at the prospect of serving the knights of Conatus, and possibly even joining their ranks. Conatus, while being an arm of the Church that continues the work of the Templars, is also so much more than just that. It's a place full of dangerous secrets and forbidden knowledge, and Ember is about to discover a whole other world she never dreamed existed.
I absolutely loved this book. I was a huge fan of the Nightshade series, though I must say I didn't particularly like the conclusion of it. Being able to learn more about the gorgeous and exciting world of Nightshade means a lot to me, though, and I'm really grateful for this phenomenal prequel-series. Rift exceeded all my expectations. I love Andrea Cremer's writing style, she is undeniably one of the most talented authors of her generation, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for her. I knew I would love Rift even before I picked it up. What I didn't know, is just how much. This book is nothing short of excellent. Packed with interesting characters, swiftly moving action, intrigue, treachery, magic, and alchemy, it's just as thrilling as it is sexy, and just as captivating as it is entertaining. Most importantly, it's also way more mature and serious than the Nightshade series. The characters are more convincing, their behaviour less erratic, and their actions way better motivated and though-out. There is a love triangle, but it's not as overpowering as the one involving Calla, Ren and Shay. What I especially appreciated about the romance part of the story, is how subtle and slow-developing it was, how innocent and teasing. The sexual tension is still there, but it isn't all over the place, and it certainly does not become the main focus of the story. Not to mention that Ember, while totally kick-ass, confident and brave, is different from Calla in many ways, including decisiveness and fidelity.
The characterization, too, is superb, and it provides the reader with a really good insight into the protagonists' thoughts and feelings. All the characters possess many distinct qualities, and they're all very essential to the plot. I am totally in love with Barrow, he is exactly my type of hero - mysterious, intriguing, dedicated, hot and totally badass. He treats Ember with respect and, though he's not really the expressive, share-all-my-feelings-with-you type, he would give his own life to protect her. He's affectionate, but in a very gentleman-like way. He's also tactful, understanding, intelligent, and I have a feeling he is yet to show us just how passionate he is.
The plot line is entirely absorbing. Rift is quite a lengthy book, but you're guaranteed to breeze through it in less than a day. You just won't be able to stop reading, I promise. It's one of the most compulsively readable novels I have ever read.
Another great thing about this book is its setting. Gorgeous medieval sceneries and buildings, knights and their weaponry,all the historical references (the Templars, witch hunts, etc.), fascinating bits and pieces of facts scattered throughout the story - it all adds a plausible air to the plot and attests to Andrea Cremer's in-depth knowledge of the past. Both the language and peoples' beliefs are in line with the times, too. The attention to historical detail is impressive, and it weaves magnificently in with the all the paranormal elements and thrilling adventures.
And what can I say about that killer ending?! Leave it to Andrea Cremer to end every single book with a jaw-dropping cliff hanger! Honestly, I didn't even expect any sort of closure. Andrea Cremer is the queen of cliffhangers that will literally leave you stunned, breathless and desperate for more. That would have been totally cool with me if only I had a copy of the second book sitting on my bookshelf and could dive straight into it. But since I don't, I can't say that I'm happy about the wait. I'm dying to read the sequel! You can't keep doing that to people, Andrea! It's wrong!
Needless to day, I highly recommend this book to everyone. The best thing about it? You really don't need to be familiar with the Nightshade series to fully enjoy this wonderful story! Be sure to pick it up next time you're in a bookstore!(less)
Powerful, haunting, and absolutely unforgettable, The Dead I Know is not Scot Gardner's first novel, or even the first one to win him recognition, but...morePowerful, haunting, and absolutely unforgettable, The Dead I Know is not Scot Gardner's first novel, or even the first one to win him recognition, but it's the first one of his books published in Canada, and one that you simply can't afford to miss. It's a tour-the-force examination of the always difficult subject of death, grief and coping with the loss of a loved one. Above all, though, it's a heart-wrenching insight into one boy's tragic life and a deeply affecting, thought-provoking and unsettling look at his psyche.
Aaron Rowe lives with his grandma, Mam, in a caravan park. He just got hired for a three-month trial as a funeral director at JKB Funerals, and is working hard, doing everything in his power to prove to his boss that he's the right man for the job. The dead don't affect him much, as he doesn't feel much in general. He's numb and withdrawn, and he doesn't speak a whole lot. He keeps to himself. There's a lot on Aaron's mind these days. His grandma isn't acting normal, her mental state getting worse with every passing day. On top of that, Aaron is a somnambulist and his sleepwalking has been getting way out of hand. Mentally exhausted, confused, and scared, Aaron has to find a way to get his life back under control, before someone (possibly himself) gets hurt.
At only 200 pages long The Dead I Know is a fairly quick read, but also one that will grip you from the first to final page. I honestly don't think you will be able to put this book down. I know I couldn't. I'm not big on reading back blurbs, they're usually more of a spoiler than a teaser, so I try my best to avoid them. I'd rather take my chances with a book and go into reading it blindfolded. When I sat down with this novel I had no expectations what-so-ever, besides a vague idea that this might be one of those light and amusing paranormal reads (based on the cover). Boy, was I wrong! From the opening lines this book delivers nothing but an exquisite literary performance and beautifully crafted, disquieting plot line. It reads more like an adult contemporary novel than your typical YA (it's as far from light and fluffy as it gets), and it prays on the most basic human fears: of death, mental illness, and being absolutely and utterly alone. This book affected me on a very personal level, as my own grand-grandma died from dementia, and I know exactly what it means to take care of a person suffering from mental disease, how physically demanding and emotionally draining it is, and just how extremely powerless and terrified it makes you feel. Scot Gardner did a phenomenal job conveying all these emotions and realities of a dementia-affected household, he brought tears to my eyes and left me speechless. When I turned the last page I didn't put the book down and simply moved on with my every-day life, I sat there hugging it close to my heart, thinking about both the storyline and my own past.
I was deeply impressed with the author's ability to tackle the subject of death, grief, mental sickness, and growing up without parents with such exceptional honesty, sensitivity and thoughtfulness. This story feels very intimate, it's full of small moments and situations that have a strong emotional impact on the reader. The narrative voice is all-too real and convincing, to the degree that you almost feel embarrassed. Like you're reading someone else's diary or spying on a stranger through a keyhole. I also loved the construction of the plot - you never fully understand what's going on until the very end of the book. There are clues and pieces of information scattered throughout the story, then there are also Aaron's feverish dreams and blackouts, but it's all very vague and mysterious. I liked that. The tension and the heavy, dark atmosphere, combined with the concise, well thought-out plot line, made this book a deliciously readable treat.
I can't recommend this book enough! It's not a long read and I really hope you'll find time to squeeze it in your reading schedules, it's definitely a must-read!(less)
Loved it. A solid thriller, full of secrets and surprises. The mystery was pretty good, the tension was building up steadily all the way till the end,...moreLoved it. A solid thriller, full of secrets and surprises. The mystery was pretty good, the tension was building up steadily all the way till the end, and the ending was very satisfying, though open to interpretation! I highly recommend it ;) (less)
A breathtaking, illuminating but never didactic, emotionally accessible (to both young adults and adults alike) tale of life, love, and what makes us...moreA breathtaking, illuminating but never didactic, emotionally accessible (to both young adults and adults alike) tale of life, love, and what makes us human. The Lost Girl is an ambitious, unexpectedly deep, and mentally stimulating debut novel, and one with a beating heart. In this skilfully plotted and intense sci-fi thriller (with subtle romantic elements) Sangu Mandanna offers us a striking and disquieting look at a strange world of the future. A world of Weavers, echos, and hunters, filled with grief, sorrow, danger and never-ending questions about the essence of humanity, self-worth and identity.
Eva is an echo. She was created by people called "Weavers" as an exact copy of a girl named Amarra. She lives with her guardian and mother-figure, Mina Ma, in a small cabin in England's countryside. Her life is not her own. It never was. She's the property of the Weavers, made to replace Amarra in case something happens to her. Every day she is forced to follow a very strict set of rules, only do what she's told to do, never step out of line. The smallest misstep could result in a trial and -- inevitably -- her destruction. She has to learn how to be Amarra. Through weekly journal entries, she studies Amarra's life and personality, learns about her family, friends, and boyfriend, memorizes every little thing that Amarra did, saw, thought. If anything happens to the other girl, Eva is expected to step in and be Amarra. An expensive replacement, a back-up plan, a clone - that's all she is and all she'll ever be. And then one day it happens. Amarra dies in a car crash and Eva is sent to take her place. Can she really leave everything behind and be the Amarra that everyone expects her to be? For Eva, failure is not an option.
Eva's story is one of the most tragic and absolutely heartbreaking ones I have read this year, possibly ever. Her life is practically meaningless and she lives with the knowledge that a smallest mistake on her part could end it all for her. She's constantly molded to be someone she's not. Her personality is so unlike Amarra's, she is a totally different girl, with entirely different mind-set, dreams, and hopes. She compares herself to Frankenstein's monster, an abomination, an unwanted and unloved experiment. Worthless, broken, rejected by everyone, undesirable. And yet she's so full of life and passion at the same time. All the hardships she faces and all the insults thrown in her face can never dim the light in her soul. She's just an echo, but in so many ways she is more human than all the other characters in this book. Thoughtful, understanding, gentle, graceful and compassionate, she's a wonderful character that I grew to love and admire.
Sangu Mandanna's writing style was devastatingly beautiful. Her words were flying off the pages, delicate and mesmerizing as butterflies, and they really spoke to me. The narrative voice was so full of raw emotions, so descriptive and sensual, I quickly became addicted to it and kept on craving more, and more, and more... Every page of this novel was infused with deep thoughts, inspiring observations, and intelligent reflections about life, relationships, death, grief, and love. Mandanna's poetic storytelling elevated this already exciting and intriguing story to a whole new level of gorgeous.
Death of a family member, and the grief caused by it, are both recurring themes in literature. It's never easy to talk, or even think, about death. It's something that deeply disturbs, but also fascinates us. Sangu Mandanna created a world where people can trick death by creating echo's of themselves and their loved ones. Her book raises many important questions: Is it acceptable to clone a person just because we're too weak or too selfish to say goodbye to them? Is the echo just a shadow on the wall, or is it a human that - once created - deserves to live, laugh, and love just like anyone else? Do we get to control someone's life just because we created them? What if you had the chance to create an echo of someone important to you? Would you do it? This novel is full of hard-hitting existential and moralistic themes. It's a mind-bender and a thrill ride, and one of the best ones of its kind!
If you're looking for a book that will thrill you, move you, and make you think - look no further! The Lost Girl is the book you need. I'm 100% sure you'll love it!(less)