I have been saying that After The Fire is my best read of 2017 but I haven’t actually reviewed it here, so I say it is long overdue and here it is!
After the Fire by Will Hill
The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.
Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.
Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.
What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?
This book was recommended (and gifted) to me by the lovely Kate and Libby from Book Box Club who also loved it and thought it was ideal for me. One of the many reasons is that the main character is called Moonbeam, which made them think of me (because I am Moon, just in case). So much they wanted me to read it that it was my birthday gift, and what a gift it was!
The story starts with the last moments that Moonbeam spends inside The Fence while a terrible fire is wreaking even more havoc around her. Then the story starts when she actually wakes up in the hospital and realises she is in the hands of the very people she was warned never to talk to, never to disclose all the secrets from inside The Fence to. Poor Moonbeam, can’t blame her for feeling confused and conflicted inside.
But deciding what she should share with the strangers that are giving her sessions and keeping her “locked” in a room isn’t the only thing that is eating her up inside. She is also trying to puzzle out what happened in those last moments once the raid started and then with the fire.
The narrative is amazing at taking you into Moonbeam’s mind and helping you understand why she is thinking what she is thinking. She has been brought up inside the Fence most of her life and after her mother leaves, she is fending for herself inside, unsure if this is the best or not.
The story progresses in jumps since we are being told what Moonbeam sees fit to share with the psychologist and the detective. Of course, at first she isn’t willing to share much, they are the evil and the voice in her head resonates with Father John’s voice blaming her and giving her free guilt trips.
[I know all too well how this feels, because more than two years after leaving an abusive relationship I still battle with that voice at times, every day a little less, but it is a nagging persistent pesky thing]. But slowly she makes the so-called progress she is being told about and starts telling more and more and she talks about it, more comes to the surface.
And without spoilers I just have to say that the last few chapters were the right note to end the story and I did not expect a few of the twists about the ending but it was good to find them happen. Once I closed the book I felt okay, pleased with how it had ended despite all that Moonbeam had had to go through.
You’re seriously in for a ride with this one. It is not a soft and fluffy romantic read, but it is a gripping ‘can’t put the book down’ read and I was utterly blown away by it.
From what I have learned (and after meeting the author, who was amazing and signed my copy and remembered me after I kept coming back to chat to him) this was inspired by the Waco Siege in Texas in 1993. I only learned this afterwards, and have now done some research into that. I admit that it is a good inspiration but love Will’s story on its own and to me they are two different events and cults.
Go read it now. You needs this on the top of your TBR or straight into your hands. But if you’d like interesting gripping reads I can recommend Lies like Love by Louisa Reid, which is about a mother daughter relationship but it is also about manipulation, control, depression and mental illness. Or you can try This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers, which is another gripping read, written in six ‘books’ of Cordelia’s adolescent life, by turns funny, poignant, sad, exciting, fascinating ironic and truthful about topics that parents often do not tell their children.
If you’d like to buy the book, you can find it here or you can check out my GoodReads review.
Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.