Rift Healer Book Review and Giveaway

Hi, all, Sher here with a book review for the blog tour of Rift Healer by Diane M. Haynes. Some of you might know I visited family in Seattle recently, and I arrived home safe and sound last week, but my suitcase, half full of frozen fish, didn’t. Thanks to lots of time on the phone trying to find it and also trying to catch up with other things, I’m behind on my reading. So today’s review started as a partial that I updated later in the day. I’m including an excerpt so you can get an idea of the book’s flavor better than I could do. 

rift healer 

Rift Healer

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?

Okay, now for the excerpt I chose because fantasy adventure is the kind of thing that most attracted me to the book and what I like reading most:

“Yeah, maybe we can talk, hey, look at that,” Lacey whispered, staring into the woods. Haley and Taylor followed her gaze and saw on the edge of the forest, the unicorn stallion. Surrounded by deep green hemlock trees and illuminated by a misty shaft of golden sunlight, he shimmered and glowed in the most magical scene ever. At that moment, the unicorn lifted his muzzle, caught a look at the kids and disappeared, dissolving in a thick curtain of glitter. As the sparkles faded in the sunshine, the three exchanged wide-eyed looks.

            “What’s he doing out here,where anyone driving by could see?” Haley asked, looking up and down the empty street. She knew the unicorns were only found deep in the forest, rarely venturing anywhere humans would catch the slightest glimpse. Last summer, they hiked in the forest many times and saw the unicorns only once. “Let’s go in,” she said, pedaling her bike over the roots and rocks to where the unicorn first caught their attention. Kneeling down, she spied a trace of glitter still shimmering on the pine needles.

            “Is this a good idea?”  Taylor asked, astride his bike in the middle of the road.  “We’re not carrying crystals, you know.” Last year they learned it was unsafe and unwise to venture into the forest without the protection of at least one magical gem from the Crystal Cave.

            Haley glanced over her shoulder and motioned them in. Lacey followed her. Haley pointed to a strange mound of earth, a few yards deeper into the sun-dappled forest.

“What is that?” Lacey said.

            “Not too smart, you guys,” Taylor called. “Come back.”
            “I don’t know. I don’t remember seeing this before.” Haley looked around. Shielded from the road by the stand of hemlocks, the unusual formation stood nearly as tall as a man and about eight feet wide. Somewhat flattened at its apex, it formed a long serpentine line, which eventually disappeared into the forest. Despite its size and length, she thought if it hadn’t been for the unicorn, they never would have seen it from the road.       
Taylor dropped his bike on the ground and followed them in, huffing with annoyance.
“What are you doing here, nosey?” Lacey asked with a smirk.
“I’m tired of being ignored and—whoa! That’s it.That’s part of the rift,” he whispered as he gazed at the mound. “This is bad. We should leave. Right now.”
            “Why should we leave?” Lacey said.  “And why are you whispering?”
            “Didn’t you hear Gisele? Monsterscome out of these things.  Let’s go.” He reached for Lacey’s hand.
            “Wait a minute.” Haley grabbed the water guns from their bikes and tucked hers into her back pocket. “Here, take yours. My palms are tingling and itchy all the way up to my elbows. Maybe I can do something here.”
            Taylor snorted. “With a water gun? Are you crazy? What are we going to do–make mud pies?”
            “I don’t know, Taylor,” Lacey shot back. “My hands are tingling too. I think we should give it a try.” She aimed her water gun at the mound, holding the toy weapon straight out from her shoulders like it carried silver bullets, rather than clear, harmless tap water.
             Sighing and shaking his head, Taylor grabbed his blue plastic six-shooter. “This is so stupid. We’re going to get eaten and all they’ll find is melted, plastic water guns.”

Now for my review. If you’re okay with omniscient point of view, and if you like romance in with your fantasy adventure, you’ll probably love this book. I wasn’t thrilled, but I was entertained and happy about the real ending, not one of those cliffhangers. 

What worked best: The old woman, Giselle (never called a witch), as mentor and teacher makes a nice change from the usual old wizard. I liked the creativity of the magical creatures and the mix of different mythologies and religions. I liked the team concept when so many books thrust the entire responsibility on one teen’s shoulders while the others come along for the ride. The mythology and characters were well developed and believable (except for the depth of romance for the age). The characters each had problems and quirks, so I had no trouble keeping them straight. Even more refreshing was the adult who stayed with them and guided them for the entire story. Far too many books strip the adult leadership as if teens can’t complete a hero’s journey when adults are present. Yes, they can, and more than one can be a hero. Haynes proved both points very well. Also kudos for the concept of free will, persevering to overcome dire predictions, and most of all the complete arc, including a very satisfying outcome.

What didn’t work as well: The writing isn’t great (awkward in places, too many mistakes and some missing words), and sometimes the point of view switched so fast I couldn’t tell whose head I was in. In this story, three points of view (Giselle, Haley, and Micah) would provide more than enough enlightenment and enrichment. To avoid confusion, each should be in a different section, and that section should start with the featured person. The romance is entertaining to a point, but it overbalances the adventure. It’s those fantasy adventure scenes that kept me entertained enough to keep reading.

One monster confused me–a Terratress described as having a Siren effect on males. Later, the author calls her a harpy. What threw me most is why, with a deadline looming to save the forest, the group didn’t go to work more often. I can see taking a day or two between to recover and train, but not three or four. Romance fills those intervals, and it’s not as important as saving the forest. Once the group learns that failing to save the forest means evil will spread beyond, they should step up the pace.

I’d rather the romance had developed slower, kept the kids guessing longer by giving them less time alone and more time working to defeat the forest monsters. Yes, I remember how it felt at age fourteen to be so head-over-heels for a guy. But I had a new crush every so often. A girl that age and a sixteen-year-old guy becoming so serious made me nervous. I also wondered if I’d wandered into a series at the second book because of the large amount of back story. A little is fine, but I don’t want to read that much of what happened before unless it’s told so it seems like the present. Back-flashes, for instance. Better yet, another book telling the whole story of last summer. Bring on the current action. 

Overall 3 stars, like but not love, due to the overbalanced romance, head-hopping and poor editing. The complete arc and ending were worth 5 stars though. I will be interested to see the author’s development in the next book implied by The Greenman’s statement about a continuing curse.


Author Diane M. Haynes

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, antiqueing and attempting to train a very reluctant Basil and a willing, but highly comedic Ruby.

Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 7/8/13
If you stop by this evening, I may finish the book and post the review by then.  Here’s hoping!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.

One Comment:

  1. I knew an older woman named Giselle once and I always thought she was magical. I like the idea behind this story. I also appreciated your honest review of what worked for you and what didn’t. Thanks- I may give this one a try. 🙂

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