Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Rift Book Poster Image
Exciting, suspenseful prequel to Nightshade series.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Christianity and its history, including the Knights Templar, are prevalent topics. Ember learns sword fighting and horseback riding. Readers familiar with the Nightshade series will learn more about the war that's discussed heavily in those novels.

Positive Messages

Friendship, family, and unity are big themes. Stay true to yourself, protect your friends and family, look out for members of your group.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ember stands up for what she believes in and for her fellow knights. She's independent, follows her moral compass, and saves a character from certain death. Many of the characters face their fears head on and rush into danger to help people. Fellow knight Barrow Hess is courageous, kind, and sticks up for Ember. He protects her and watches over her.


In a brutal scene, a minor character loses a limb during a sword fight. Ember and the other knights fight zombies and dragon-like monsters, including bloodthirsty goblins who kill minor and secondary characters. The group also battles wraiths who suck people's souls and hunt children.


A character pressures Ember for a romance she doesn't want, two major characters share a kiss, and the possibility of sex between them is mentioned but never occurs. Sexual orientation is discussed. Both same-sex and opposite-sex characters kiss. Ember accidentally shows her breasts to a male character.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some minor characters drink ale, but it's not indicated how old they are.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rift is the first of a two-part prequel to the popular Nightshade trilogy. No werewolves here, but there are noble knights, nasty villains, magic, frightening monsters, and thrilling suspense. There are also some brutally violent scenes, including a sword fight in which a minor character loses a limb. Ember and the other knights fight zombies and dragon-like monsters, including bloodthirsty goblins who kill minor and secondary characters. The knights also battle wraiths who suck people's souls and hunt children. Rift also has romance, with same- and opposite-sex kissing. And a familiar character from the Nightshade series makes a special appearance.

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Adult Written byApril R. October 15, 2015

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What's the story?

Ember was promised to the knights of Contanus when her mother signed a blood contract at her birth. Knowing this is her fate and not wanting to marry, Ember has secretly trained and mentally prepared herself to be a knight. But her father would rather she marry a wealthy suitor. The knights put her to a tough test, but she passes with flying colors. She starts training with a handsome and enigmatic knight, all while facing monsters she never knew existed. Through magic and toughness, Ember and the knights battle darkness and witchcraft, as well as one another.

Is it any good?

RIFT is an exciting addition to the Nightshade series. It takes place in a much different time period and location -- 15th-century Scotland -- and has a coming-of-age feel. Every moment is fraught with tension, and the action is nonstop. Readers who are tired of love triangles and love at first sight will be pleased to find neither here. The romance evolves from mutual admiration and then solid friendship. Though there remain some loose ends and unanswered questions, Rift will leave readers salivating for the sequel.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about traditional and nontraditional roles of women during the 1400s. What options did women have in adulthood besides marriage? 

  • If you read any of the Nightshade trilogy, how do you think this prequel compares?

  • Teen girls: What would you do if a male friend wanted more than friendship?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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