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.
The island is full of ley lines and The Rift- a gap between dimensions, which allows dangerous, invisible hounds to get through. These bites sometimes result in extra abilities, if the person is lucky to survive. The island and the deer are protected by the Rangers, who are mostly descended from the island's bloodlines. The bloodlines matter, and these people have deep connections that make it hard to leave. The Rangers oversee the culling to make sure the rules are followed.
Meg was the daughter of a ranger, who has been on the mainland for a while with her mother. They are planning to sell their property on the island to use the proceeds to pay off medical debts. However, coming back is harder than they could have imagined, and Meg is started to run into Cal, a fisherman's son who is not of the ranger bloodline, but who was her best friend. Something is changing on the island, and Meg and Cal end up working together to try to figure it out.
What I loved: The setting is incredibly compelling and the writing flows well. There are a lot of unique and interesting elements that build to create this island, its mysteries, and the conflicts with Big Pharma. I liked the connections to nature and animals and each other that is portrayed in the book.
What left me wanting more: The book is really hard to follow with lots of things appearing suddenly and not well described. I would have liked more explanations and clarifications going into it. The beginning is a bit slow to read as we figure things out, but it does get quicker later in the story, and things begin to come together/make more sense later on.
Final verdict: Overall a well-built world with unique elements, this YA fantasy has great promise. Would recommend for people who like books about nature and magical elements.