Welcome to the Moonlight Library’s tour stop for The Rift by Rachael Craw. This tour stop consists of a Guest Post by Rachael on her inspiration for the book, plus a book review! Scroll down for a bonus giveaway on Rafflecoptor!The Rift by Rachael Craw
Published by Candlewick Press
Published on 1 November 2018
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: My home library
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As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two young friends must try to protect the precious Old Herd -- and their island itself.
For generations, the rangers of Black Water Island have guarded the Old Herd against the horrors released by the Rift. And Cal West, an apprentice ranger, fights daily to prove he belongs within their ranks. But even greater challenges await with the return of his childhood friend Meg Archer and the onset of a new threat that not even the rangers are prepared for. Now Meg and Cal, while struggling with their mutual attraction, must face their darkest fears to save the island from disaster. In a possible near future where Big Pharma is pitted against ancient traditions and the supernatural, Rachael Craw's gripping and brutal tale, inspired by Greek mythology, will immerse readers and leave them intoxicated by its richly imagined world.
- Storylines Notable Book Award, 2019
- Finalist, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2019
GUEST POST with Rachael Craw
NEMO: I studied myths and legends at university. Tell us more about how the Greek Actaeon/Artemis myth inspired the book and how you’ve changed it and made it your own:
I am a Classics and Drama major from the University of Canterbury and I think the love of mythology is well embedded in my DNA. However, I must confess that the myth of Actaeon had escaped my radar. As the story goes, Actaeon was hunting in the woods with his dogs, where he stumbled across the goddess Artemis, bathing. Presumably, Actaeon copped an eyeful and the goddess was not best pleased. In her rage, she cursed him and he turned into a stag, whereupon his dogs ripped him to shreds. The end.
Back up a step. What led me to google search, “Man turns into stag,” was a ruminating image in my mind’s eye coupled with a hunger for “atmosphere”. The setting for The Rift was my starting place. An island, mountainous, forested and in many ways inhospitable, yet compelling – humming with ley-lines. It drew me in. Black Water Island was my first character. I guess the ancient forest vibe led me to foresty archetypes and the “Man turns into stag” shapeshifter concept was tugging at my sleeve. When the google searching began there were several great stories but it was the brutality of Actaeon’s demise that really captured my attention.
The Rift is not a retelling. The myth merely inspires the premise. I wanted to ground my story in the here and now, and I asked the question: what if Actaeon didn’t die? What if that curse stayed in his bloodline and travelled down through generation after generation to right now? What if the power of that curse kept drawing those dogs through time and space so that they were always seeking to destroy Actaeon’s descendants? What would happen to dogs caught in an epic curse through space and time? They’re not likely to just look like regular dogs after a few millennia of tumbling through the ether. So, my dogs are terrifying, spectral Rift Hounds.
I tried to imagine what would make Actaeon’s descendants different from regular deer. The idea of the antlers carrying a healing compound created a “universal” problem for the story. If you have something that powerful and valuable it will inevitably draw the greed and corruption of men. In a present day context, it gives rise to the true antagonist of the story, a ruthless pharmaceuticals company. I love me a good old evil corporation – there’s one in the Spark series too.
For my own creative process, I rewrote the story of Actaeon. A short story from his point of view, imagining the moment of stumbling across the goddess, the experience of the curse and fleeing for his life pursued by the dogs. I have an explanation for how the Rift in time and space was made by the goddess and the power of her curse. I have a mythology for the Rangers and the spark of the first Ranger being handed down by ritual selection for each new generation but I don’t go into it in the novel. That’s for another story.
Ultimately, Meg and Cal are the beating heart of The Rift. Their childhood trauma, binds them inextricably to the island and each other. It’s the dynamic between them and their relationships with Sargent and the other Rangers and Meg’s mum that interest me the most. The wild premise and mythology is simply a misty backdrop to the real and present threat of poachers and rabid dogs. It’s about family, belonging and connection to place; it’s about courage, sacrifice and love.
I received this book in a YA Chronicles subscription box some months prior to the announcement of this blog tour, which I then eagerly signed up for. I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I discovered it in my subscription box, and I was so excited to read about this story that seemed to draw on some things that I was already really into: Greek myths, Gothic atmospheres, isolated islands, animal bonds, a group of people referred to as ‘Rangers’.
In the subscription box, Craw had written a note that revealed one of her favourite books is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and that she was inspired by the gothic atmosphere of that novel. I can completely see the similarities, or maybe inspirations, of that wonderful novel in Craw’s lushly atmospheric, timeless, violent story about dangerous magical animals and the people who love and live with them.
Craw’s novel is so lovingly filled with imaginative descriptions of the scenery it’s like a love letter to the Gothic atmosphere: the ethereal herd of magical deer who occupy this mountainous, magical, isolated island; and the outdoorsy Rangers who monitor the slopes and protect the herd from the deadly and unpredictable Rift Hounds. I could clearly see the forest in my head – and maybe it’s because I live in a cool temperate, or oceanic, climate with amazing rainforests and mountains, that I could so clearly envision the eerie, beautiful forest setting. It’s the same climate as New Zealand (where Craw is from) and the Pacific North West (where I think the book may be set), so together I think I might be the perfect audience for this book’s setting.
I loved less the ‘romance’ aspect. I found that because Meg and Cal didn’t realise their feelings were mutual, that resulted in the infatuations seeming a bit childish (stemming from their shared childhood and trauma and compounded by intense jealousies) and rather un-romantic. I think that if they had realised it earlier, they were still too busy to do anything and besides, they suffered from enough of their own physical and mental trauma that they couldn’t do anything about it anyway, so the sexual tension would have been more real and realised for me.
I do have to mention that I love a good stand-alone, when the world is absolutely going to shit and the characters are at the end of their desperate tether, and the whole thing feels like an Armageddon (normally the kind of thing reserved for later books in a series). I loved the build up to the climax in this book, both the physical actions taken that made me feel like I was there as the storm raged and the ground shook, and Meg and Cal’s own internal realisations and the hints left behind afterwards.
Overall this book was pretty special, filled with imaginative and lush worldbuilding and setting descriptions, interesting and varied characters with individual motivations that you can really admire and even love a little, and it’s definitely got a very special place in my heart.
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About the Author
Rachael Craw began her working life as an English teacher after completing a degree in Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury. She dabbled in acting, directing and writing for amateur theatre productions and small independent film ventures. Her passion for dialogue and characterisation finally led to long-form writing with the Spark series. Rachael’s enthusiasm for classical heroes, teen angst and popular culture informs much of her creative process. She enjoys small town life teaching, writing and mentoring at the top of the South Island of New Zealand where she lives with her husband and three daughters.
The Blog Tour