Selena's sister Julie disappeared twenty years ago. When she went missing, stories speculating about what may have happened to her were numerous and dramatic. Had she fallen victim to a local serial killer? Did any of the dozens of freaky letters the family received from anonymous strangers, psychics and psychos hold any clues? Their father always believed the truth might be far more mysterious and esoteric, but he died without ever discovering the answers.
And now Julie is back. Or, at least, someone who says she is Julie. And when she finally tells Selena what actually happened, it throws Selena's life into chaos. Is this really her long lost sister, or is she a callous imposter? She remembers details about their childhood that only the real Julie would know, but surely her explanation about what happened to her can’t be real? Has Julie really spent the intervening years living on another planet, or has she experienced some kind of psychotic break? If she is an imposter, what does she have to gain by assuming Julie’s identity and insinuating herself back into Selena’s life? And what toll will her maybe-sister’s arrival take on Selena’s own sanity?
The Rift is a rich, intricate, intriguing book that doesn't cheat on its multi-level premise and gives the reader plenty to think about when the story is over. Part family drama, part detective story, part speculative science fiction, part thriller, it's a worthy successor to Nina Allan’s previous novel The Race although, in spirit, it feels a lot closer to her excellent collection of short stories The Silver Wind: Four Stories of Time Disrupted. But it's not perfect. The constant references to old TV shows and movies - everything from Stars in Their Eyes to Picnic at Hanging Rock - becomes tiring and self-indulgent, and the frequent inclusion of old newspaper reports, examination notes, essays, and other character’s POV's often subtracts from rather than adds to the rhythm of the storytelling. Still, The Rift is an interesting, thought-provoking read, and it will keep you guessing right to the very end… and even, maybe, beyond.
THE RIFT / AUTHOR: NINA ALLAN / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: 11TH JULY