Nightshade Prequel #2
Paranormal Young Adult
Available January 8th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
stands for is at risk. Hoping to gather enough resistance to save their
order, Ember and Barrow attempt a desperate escape. But fate offers
little mercy. When their mission is exposed, the couple face relentless
pursuit by the supernatural horrors that act on the commands of Eira’s
ally: the mysterious Bosque Mar. A shocking revelation forces Ember out
of hiding, sending her back into the heart of dark magic at Tearmunn
keep, where she must convince her old friend Alistair of her love or
face dire consequences. Ember’s deception offers the only chance for the
resistance to succeed, but what she discovers in the shadows beneath
the keep will shatter her world and bring about the Witches’ War.
Rise wastes little time returning us to the dark changes taking place in Ember’s world, the promise of answers as to how the wolves of the Nightshade series came to be teasing us until our curiosity ensures we turn the pages with record speed. While the Nightshade world was intriguing (though I confess to only having read the first book), there’s something even more appealing about both prequels; perhaps the fact that we’re starting at the very beginning–the moments just before and the moments of creation–of the wolves that satisfies our inquisitive minds more fully and completely, giving us intimate knowledge that can only enhance Calla’s story should we read the books in chronological order rather than order of release.
Though we switch back and forth between multiple storylines, we spend most of our time with young Ember, a woman we admired immediately in Rift for her desire to step outside what’s deemed “appropriate” for women of her station and embrace a more challenging destiny. She both maintains and strengthens our admiration in this second installment, her desire to fight and protect tempered by her affection for Barrow to make her into a beautiful blend of appealing characteristics. She’s strong without being reckless, thoughtful without living too much in her own head, and in love without all the drama and fanfare, and we know with certainty that she’ll make choices that, though difficult, are ones that are best for all and not simply herself or Barrow.
While there’s no true love triangle in Rise, Ms. Cremer does a spectacular job of depicting Ember’s troubled relationship with childhood best friend Alistair–their every interaction thick with layers of truth and deceit stemming from years of history–and we can’t help but be drawn into their painful web, held in place as a captive audience to their hurt. Even as we despair of the man Alistair is becoming, we cling to the last few remaining vestiges of hope we have that he’ll shake loose from Bosque Mar’s influence and return to the teasing friend and treasured confidante he once was, but each page challenges our stubborn hold on hope, and we look toward the next book with a touch of dread, wondering what fate has in store for him.
Overall, Rise suffers from very few of the pitfalls that plague many a sequel, answering as many questions as it raises and giving us our first glimpse at the intricate and terrifying transformative process for the wolves, something the part of us that constantly asks “how” and “why” is extraordinarily grateful for. Ember’s story is one that can’t be put to page quickly enough, and I will certainly be counting down the days until the next leg of her journey is in my hands.