Welcome to my stop on the Rift Healer Blog Tour, hosted by I Am A Reader Not a Writer. You can read my review below and at the end of this post, you can enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Rift Healer is the first installment of the ‘Forest Magic’ series, a Young Adult Fantasy/Romance set in Central and Western Massachusetts.
After a minor earthquake, the enchanted forest in Bidwell, MA, is infested with monster-spewing rifts. Gisele Westerfield’s great-nephew, the gifted Micah, and his distant cousin, Selena, arrive to assist. Together with Gisele’s summer students, twins Haley and Lacey, they will try to heal the magical forest.
Much to the consternation of the beautiful Selena, Micah identifies Haley as The One whom he’ll share his future. But after witnessing a terrifying display of Micah’s Gift, Haley cools to his advances and unexpectedly discovers her own Gift– she can heal the earth.
Monsters, mayhem, and teenage angst follow the small group as they confront evil in the forest and a dangerous prediction that ‘one will fall’. Will they heal the rifts in time? Can they save the unicorns? And is Haley really destined to be with Micah?
In a word: a dizzying array of magical creatures, non-stop action, a dangerous mission and some very scary monsters.
Rift Healer was one of those books that gets better the more you read. I have to admit I wasn’t convinced in the beginning that I was going to enjoy this story. It took a while to really get going, and although there is quite a bit of action in the first half, it felt a little disjointed to me. But once I hit the 50% mark, the story took off like a bullet and didn’t slow down until the end. The author has so many creative ideas (maybe too many ideas—more about that later) and uses a wonderful magical forest as the backdrop for her story. Add in some teenage angst and you have an engaging and multi-layered story.
My favorite parts of Rift Healer were the scenes set in the forest near Gisele’s house, a magical place that Gisele protects and keeps secret. Gisele is training some teens to help with her ongoing job of healing the rifts that sometimes break through the forest floor and spew out all manner of horrid things that threaten the forest’s magical creatures. Haley and Lacey are fourteen-year-old twins who come to visit for the summer. Micah is Gisele’s great-nephew who is a magical Adept, someone born with magical powers. And Selena is Micah’s distant cousin, a girl who has also been studying magic for many years. When the five get together one summer after an earthquake has created a rift in the forest, it’s going to take every magical resource they have to save the forest from the Terrors and the other creepy crawlies that emerge from the rifts.
There are several romantic pairings in the story, and the most epic one is between Haley and Micah. Micah sees a photo of Haley and immediately knows he’s found his soul mate. And when the two meet in person, Haley can’t tear her eyes away from Micah, she’s so smitten with him. It seems it’s a relationship that’s fated to happen, and the two seem to have no say in the matter. The wrench between them, however, is Selena, a fifteen-year-old who has her sights set on Micah and isn’t shy about showing how jealous she is of Haley. Selena tries time and again to get between them, but it’s a tough battle to fight. Micah and Haley are simply love-struck every time they’re in the same room together.
The characters are really well done, and I especially loved Gisele, the older and wiser adult who feels the burden of not only caring for the magical forest, but making sure no harm comes to her teenaged students. Her ties with the forest are deep, and she will do anything to keep it and its creatures safe, even if it means sacrificing herself. Only Selena’s character seemed over-the-top to me, at least in the first half of the story. She’s so ridiculously jealous of Haley and Micah that she comes off as an unpleasant shrew. Luckily by the end she’s turned into a more likeable character, someone you will even be rooting for.
I loved the magical forest! I mean, who doesn’t want a magical forest near their house? The idea of rifts erupting from the ground and bugs and other slimy things pouring out of them was a great one, and I enjoyed the process of Haley and her friends being given magical crystals and other objects that they can use to fix the problem. Around every turn was something new to take in: unicorns, dragons, fairies, trolls, water sprites, mermaids, even quicksand! I did wish the author had perhaps chosen a few of those elements to focus on, rather than throw the entire kitchen sink into the mix. It was overwhelming in places. But there were so many creative elements that I loved, like the Crystal Cave where they go to check the Altar Stone for their personalized magical objects.
The only problem I had with this story was that it felt like a middle grade book, rather than young adult. I know the characters are teenagers, but some of their behavior, as well as some expository dialog, made them seem much younger than their ages. Selena’s behavior in particular struck me as immature, and I had a hard time believing a fifteen-year-old girl would really be so frantically in love with her sixteen-year-old cousin (even if he is a “distant” cousin).
But overall, I had a fun time reading Rift Healer, especially the last half when the tension and danger really gets going. The author subtly uses the themes of working together towards a common goal and protecting the environment to great effect. Readers who love their fantasy filled with magical creatures will love Rift Healer.
Many thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.
Diane has lived in Massachusetts all her life where early on, her artistic talents were fostered, though her skills as an “excellent report writer” were often noted in previous employment.
On her brother Rick’s birthday, November 16, 2004, seven months after his death, she woke from an amazing dream which would not fade. She outlined the dream, made a few quick notes and days later produced a 12 page short story. After deciding her story was interesting but incomplete, she began writing her first novel, using her dream as its climax. She now believes the dream to be a ‘Spirit Gift,’ sent by her brother.
Diane continues to reside in Central MA with her husband and a very naughty Basset Hound named Basil and his new adopted sister-Basset, Ruby, both of whom cleverly wreak havoc on the Haynes’ formerly well-ordered lives. She spends her time writing, reading books about writing, talking about writing, painting with watercolors, antiquing and attempting to train a very reluctant Basil and a willing, but highly comedic Ruby.
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