Fantasy, romance and a little bit odd, Hannah Marshall
Zombie deer, dimensional rifts and a race to save an island from disaster – welcome to the world of The Rift, the newest offering from YA author Rachael Craw.
The Rift takes readers on an epic journey to Black Water Island, where Rangers guard the sacred Old Herd against the Rift, a mysterious natural phenomenon that poses a significant danger to the island and its inhabitants. Cal West is an apprentice Ranger, whose mission to save the island is interrupted by the return of former friend Meg Archer; both share a dark past. Together, they must face their past demons and navigate the dangerous world of Black Water Island in a race to save the island from the horrors of the Rift.
For fans of fantasy, romance and anything a little bit odd, this book is for you. Readers will fall in love with the enchanting, mysterious and mystical setting of Black Water Island, and Craw’s beautifully descriptive style makes the setting come alive. Fantasy and reality blend seamlessly in this novel and make for a highly original, unique and compelling read. The dazzling, supernatural feel of Black Water Island will be welcomed by anyone who is familiar with New Zealand’s dramatic landscapes; the island will feel like a second home.
Craw also wins points for her characters. Cal and Meg are two strong-minded characters who both relatably struggle with their secrets from the past. Cal’s quiet, brooding character contrasts with Meg’s vivacious and determined personality, creating a perfect dynamic. Craw’s other characters are just as lovable, springing to life from the page. Meg and Cal’s troubled relationship with Black Water Island demonstrates the power of connection and plays on important ideas of what it means to be home.
Editor's note: Meg is still tied to her childhood home on the island, because “she loves Black Water. Utterly. Bitterly.”
However, amidst its steady stream of action, I found the plot of The Rift to be confusing and messy. I often had to re-read parts in order to understand the story, and elements of the plot still remain blurry. Cal and Meg’s journey fails to reach a climax, with the suspense lost in trying to understand such a busy and embellished plot. Elements of the story appear undeveloped, losing vital suspense and flow. The traumatic past shared by Meg and Cal – an essential part of their characters – is half-baked and neglected, abandoned in the action only to be tacked on in a rush. Competing with so many other elements in the story, the most important one – Meg and Cal’s past – is left behind, and the plot suffers as a result. Unfortunately, the flow, suspense and character development of The Rift become stilted in the midst of a messy storyline.
Despite its issues with plot, I fell in love with the dark and brooding world of The Rift and its equally lovable characters. Craw’s descriptive and poetic style brings this story to life and rivals many fantasy stories today for its completely unique and compelling premise. I would recommend this book and its brilliant world to anyone; you just have to be willing to forgive its flaws.
Hannah Marshall is 16 and from Wellington.