So, The Rifter is a series of 10 books, beginning with “The Shattered Gates”, and ending with “His Holy Bones”. They’re a combination of fantasy and LGBTQ romance, with 2 male protagonists. This is a review of this whole series. 😊
I loved this! I read these books recently, finally, in a non-stop binge that had me see-sawing between impatiently anticipating & dreading what was coming next, desperately rushing to get to the end but also never wanting it to end, never wanting these characters stop being part of my daily life. And though I’ve read a couple of things now since I finished, I’m still a little bit in the book hang-over stage from this experience.
I can’t believe how long it took me to get around to reading this series! I love this author’s work & these books came with the highest possible recommendations, so they’ve been on my tbr for a couple of years. Yet I kept putting off reading them because, omg, 10 books! 😱 I was daunted by that kind of reading commitment, especially as I sensed it would be the sort of thing you need to read all in one go.
And I was right … But man, am I glad I finally read them!
This series is epic in every sense of the word. And I quickly realized there was no reason to worry about the reading becoming a laborious slog. For one thing, while these are all novels, they are relatively short ones. But mostly because, after a slightly slow start getting into the first book, I found these books utterly gripping. This was one of those reads like I haven’t had in forever, where the story just pulls you in & consumes your attention, where you can’t help tearing through the reading as fast as you can go.
It was also powerfully moving, both emotionally, and at least for me, in a spiritual, existential sense as well. The latter aspect felt especially strong for me, because this series’ themes around life and death, change and loss and acceptance, and the way it explores paradox, the capacity for opposite, conflicting things to be true at the same time, these are themes my own life has been circling pretty intensely in recent years. Which meant that, emotionally speaking, there was some fairly heavy lifting involved in reading this, but it was so well worth it.
I was gonna say this is a story that’s “larger than life”, but I think it’s more accurate to say it’s as large as life, because life itself is, y’know, pretty huge.
Anyway, not to oversell those aspects though 😛 This story is amazing & can stand on it’s own merits just as pure fantasy & romance without getting any more deeply into it than that. The world-building is fantastic. There’s a cool invented language for linguistic geeks to fall in love with. And the way the author juggles time elements is masterful. There is a huge cast of characters, all fully fleshed (err, at least metaphorically speaking! 😁) & even the worst villains are portrayed with humanity & compassion. The romance is tender, complicated, sexy in a more lyrical than graphic way. And the story is both disturbing and deeply heartbreaking at times, but there’s a beautiful, healing HEA that makes up for all of it. Getting to that is a bit of a rough road, but well worth the trip, I believe.
And the broader implications of that last thing was one of my favorite things about this book, really deepening my reading experience: That, in the final resolution, you can see how all the painful things the characters went through were not, in fact, roadblocks or detours or wrong turns, but a necessary part of the road, of the journey to get there. I just find such a sense of hope in that, and it’s something I’ve really tried to carry forward from the book.
Highly recommended, especially if you like fantasy.