You have no idea how excited I was on Friday when I made my usual run through Barnes & Noble after dinner and spotted a copy of The Rift Walker on the shelves. Actually, I kind of stood there looking at the book in a strange sort of trance, because I really didn’t believe my eyes. The book’s not supposed to be out until September, and last I checked we were still in August, although the way this summer’s been flying by I would not have been all that surprised to discover that, yes, we were in fact in September and I’d missed a few weeks. But my trusty smart phone confirmed that the long-awaited sequel to The Greyfriar is not supposed to be released until September, and yet there it was in front of me on the shelf! I somehow managed to contain my high pitched shriek of joy, snatched the book from the shelves and ran to the front to buy it, just in case the staff realized their error and tried to tackle me before I could reach the doors. Good luck with that, you latte drinking, all black wearing hipsters!!! I stayed up late last night to finish the book, and it. was. AWESOME. You know your favorite Indiana Jones movie? The one with all the heart-pounding action, romance, and a little magic? My friends, you must read The Rift Walker, because reading it is just like watching Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade. You will not be able to put it down!
Any review of The Rift Walker will contain spoilers for the first book in the Vampire Empire series, The Greyfriar, so if you haven’t read the first book, you might want to read my review of it here. The Rift Walker can stand on its own, but you will definitely enjoy the book all the more if you’ve read the first in the series.
The Rift Walker picks up only three months after The Greyfriar ends. Princess Adele of Equatoria has returned to Alexandria after her ordeal in the north of Europe. Her story has become immensely popular in Equatoria, resulting in the publication of penny dreadfuls and plays depicting her kidnapping by vampires and subsequent rescue by the Greyfriar. Her American fiancé Senator Miles Clark is pressing her to set a date for their political marriage, but Adele lost her heart to the Greyfriar in his castle in Edinburgh, despite learning that the Greyfriar was in fact the vampire Prince Gareth. Senator Clark’s military expertise is vital to the humans’ plans to declare war against the vampires to the north, but his bravado and arrogance repulse Adele. She’s further horrified to learn that his plans for the north include fire-bombing as many humans in the vampires’ terrain as possible, as that will kill off their food supply and weaken the enemy. Her protests fall on deaf ears, and her father, Emperor Constantine II, orders their marriage within the next two weeks. When vampire Gareth learns that his brother Cesare plans to abduct Adele during her honeymoon, he travels to Alexandria and interrupts the royal wedding to whisk Adele away to safety. While the Equatorians and Adele’s husband Senator Clark give chase, the lovers seek a safe haven, little realizing that their actions have allowed Equatorian Prime Minister Lord Kelvin the opportunity to seize power.
Really, this book has it all. The action is non-stop, with several storylines running at once. The vampires are uniting under Cesare, and Gareth’s attempts to protect the humans while maintaining his secret identity as the Greyfriar are becoming increasingly less effective. Princess Adele is forced to acquiesce to her father’s demands that she fulfill her duty and marry the bellicose Senator Clark, despite her reports that the humans in the north need the assistance of the Equatorians. And it becomes clear that there are several different factions seeking to control Equatoria through Adele. Her mysterious teacher Mamoru is training her to use the powers she discovered in the north, and while these powers could spell the end to the vampires, they could also mean the end of Gareth, her love.
The constant action will keep you on the edge of your seat, and I kept wondering how the political intrigue could be resolved in one book, especially since there is a third book planned. I should not have doubted the authors, because the immediate situation was resolved while still maintaining the vampire threat. The various political betrayals and underhanded dealings will leave you gasping, but you’ll also cheer when the obnoxious Clark gets his comeuppance. The authors really draw you in with this aspect of the novel, because everyone seems to have their own agenda regarding Adele and her role as future empress and vampire killer. Some of Adele’s friends prove themselves more than trustworthy, while others make you wonder if more betrayal is yet to come.
Princess Adele definitely matures in this novel, and she is a heroine you will root for over and over again. In The Greyfriar she was still a young, idealistic girl forced to revise long-accepted truths about vampires and humans, but in The Rift Walker she faces difficult choices as future empress and as a woman. She wishes to be the best ruler possible but begins to realize that her love for Gareth might not have a happy ending, since he is the only vampire who values human life. Watching her transform into the empress of Equatoria is exciting and poignant, since we know any future with Gareth will be precarious at best, and the romance with the vampire prince is as touching as it is forbidden. Gareth is perfect hero material, and it’s a pleasure to witness his pride in Adele’s deft choices in the face of adversity.
The Rift Walker is an outstanding adventure that will leave you breathless. I couldn’t put the book down, and it’s going to be a long, long wait for the third installment! I thought The Greyfriar was one of the best books I’ve read this year, and The Rift Walker more than exceeded any expectations I might have had for a sequel. I highly recommend this one. Well done, Clay and Susan Griffith!