Andrea Cremer has dazzled YA fans with her Nightshade series, which follows the supernatural adventures of Guardian wolf shifter Calla and her human love interest Shay. But for readers who are curious about the origins of the magic that fills the Nightshade books, Cremer has penned the Nightshade prequel Rift, which takes place hundreds of years before the first Nightshade book. Today the author shares how Rift ties into the Nightshade series, what readers can expect from the prequel and we give you an exclusive first look at the cover of Rift's sequel, Rise!
The opening line of Nightshade: “I’ve always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden,” refers to Calla Tor’s present. But the Witches War between Nightshade’s Keepers and Searchers began centuries before Calla was born. As a historian, my research focused on the intersections of religion, violence, and sexuality in the early modern (1500-1800) Atlantic world. When I began Nightshade, I was often asked why a history professor would be interested in writing fantasy novels. From my perspective the history I studied and the fantasy world I created went hand in hand. The lives and minds of early modern Europeans were shaped by belief in the supernatural and reshaped by incredible shifts in scientific thought (think Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton) and philosophy (Descartes, Kant, Hume, Hobbes, Locke – to name just a few). The volatility created through the numerous conflicts between tradition and innovation, superstition and revelation presents one of the most transformative periods in history … and the perfect backdrop to a fantasy world.
Though the Nightshade trilogy is set in present-day Vail, Colorado I knew from the first page that the origin story of the Witches War was every bit as important to Calla’s tale as the action unfolding in the book’s pages. The more I wrote of Calla’s present, the greater my knowledge of the history of her pack masters, the Keepers, and her enemies, the Searchers, became. I knew that within the hundreds of years prior to Nightshade there existed so many stories of war, love, loss — stories I hoped someday to tell.
The first of those stories is Rift, and it’s not only the first story of the past it’s also the origin story of the Witches War. Rift is set in fifteenth-century Scotland. The setting harkens to my love of the Scottish Highlands and my own ancestry (my maiden name is Robertson). I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Scotland and the Highlands in particular have always felt mysterious, magical, and marked by a sadness born of the weight of its history.
Rift follows the story of two women and the choices they make: the first is Ember — a sixteen-year-old initiate into a secretive clerical order called Conatus. Ember longs to break free of the role expected of her as the daughter of a nobleman. When she joins the Conatus Guard, Ember believes she’s found the freedom and adventure she’s dreamed of, but she faces a new challenge in the fierce warrior, Barrow, who’s been charged with her training. Thrust into life and death moments while at Barrow’s side leaves Ember breathless with newfound strength — and something else she’s only beginning to understand. The second is Eira — a veteran knight of Conatus whose frustration with the corruption of her superiors tempts her into dangerous choices. Eira is slowly drawn into an intimate alliance with a dark, mysterious figure who will change her world forever. The twists and turns of these two characters’ lives, and the immediate consequences of their actions, reveal how the Witches War began. Rise explores the emergence of the Keepers and the source of their dark magic as well as the risk of love and the price of betrayal.
What I love about Rift is that it offers a new story and new characters. You don’t have to read the Nightshade trilogy to understand and enjoy Rift and Rise. For fans of Nightshade, however, Rift will answer many questions and create more breadth and depth to the world that readers already know.
- Andrea Cremer