A few years ago, Rachael Craw captivated me with her excellent Spark trilogy. Now, in November, she returns with her new young adult novel, The Rift. Taking us on a new journey, to an island inhabited by a mysterious herd of deer, deer which hold the cure for any ailment. These deer must be carefully managed, and conserved, both for their safety and the safety of their world.
Engrossing and immersive, Craw has created an elaborate mythos, and settled it in with science. She has given us two heroes: Cal, a fisherman’s son, now initiated into the rangers, the people that protect the Herd; and Meg, the daughter of the head ranger, who has not set foot on the island for 9 years – since the tragic event that wounded her, and changed Cal and the rangers forever.
Now, she must return with her mother to settle an argument over property, only to find new turmoil. The way of the rangers is being challenged, and conspiracies and intrigue abound. As she becomes entangled in the complex snare, she cannot deny her growing attraction to Cal. Once childhood friends, could they now be something more? But their shared past has left him altered irrevocably – he can no longer bear the touch of another person.
The writing is eloquent and evocative, thrusting the reader into this strange and otherworldly place, whilst also delivering a modern political theme of corporations and greed, of putting profit before people.
I also especially loved the scouts (the rangers’ bird companions), and the manner in which Reeve (a crow) communicated with Cal and Meg – and manipulated events to bring them together, added not only a touch of humor, but also unexpected delight.
Overall, another engrossing and thought-provoking tale from an NZ writer who deserves to be ranked highly in the young adult market. I look forward to reading more!
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
by Rachael Craw
Published by Walker Books