After The Fire Review

Saturday, 19 August 2017

By Will Hill
Rating: 5/5
Source: W H Smith bundle

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 already on my radar thanks to a certain lady from no safer place, so I was days away from buying a copy when I saw that it was a part of the Zoella Book Club it felt like fate. 

After The Fire tells the story of Moonbeam who has grown up in a cult that centres around religion. Everyone within the fence lives by their religious beliefs but ultimately the teachings of Father John, who nothing less than dictates the lives of those who follow him. 

The book begins dramatically, a fire is raging and the FBI are laying siege to the compound in order to rescue those who still remain within it. Naturally I was hooked. As the title of the book suggests, this book is set after the events of the fire, Moonbeam wakes up in a hospital/rehabilitation centre where she is interviewed about her life in the cult leading up to the fire, the story then switches between the present and Moonbeam's memories. 

I've never read any of Will's other novels, but what I can grasp from reading After The Fire is that he knows what he wants to say and says it, there's no beating around the bush. The intensity radiates off of the page in a way that's intimidating and brutal but also incredibly touching and heartbreaking. I've never read anything like this before. 

Like most good villains, the face of evil is hidden beneath a mask of charm and charisma. It's much easier to believe lies when they're told to you sweetly, the way your parents might disguise the truth so that life makes more sense. 

The other prominent characters in the book are Dr Hernandez and Agent Carlyle, who are the ones interviewing Moonbeam. There's a lot of great good cop/bad cop conversations between the two of them. The FBI need to know the inner workings of the cult so they know who to charge and with what, but the case is more sensitive than that and there's some intense twists that I won't spoil for anyone who may want to read. Throughout the process of interviewing, Agent Carlyle goes on a journey of his own with the help of Dr Hernandez, who has worked with patients like Moonbeam before. 

Moonbeam slowly comes to terms with her life inside the cult and she learns to trust those who have rescued her. It's a difficult process, especially with the voice of Father John still within her head, reinforcing fears and doubt in these outsiders, the way he did when she was still within the compound. Even though the presence of Father John and his 'CAPITAL LETTERS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!' is an unpleasant experience, it's also familiar to Moonbeam and because she had associated his voice with security for so long,  she perhaps hangs onto the moments a little too much in this strange and new environment. 

I'm glad I read this book, not just because it's brilliant but because I've never read about cults before and while I knew they exist I wasn't entirely aware of just how despicable they can be. This book will give you a lot of food for thought and that's why I urge you to pick this one up. I've learned a lot more about cults since from chats on Twitter and researching things online, After The Fire is no less harrowing than the real events it is based on, Will has done a brilliant job of not sugar coating the truth. 

I'd recommend this book to anyone and everyone (granted you are capable of dealing with sensitive material), fan of YA or not. I'll be waiting patiently for Will's next book, which I've heard will be a YA Thriller! 

Thanks for reading!

1 comment

  1. I've heard so much about this book, that I think I just have to read it!
    great review, I'll definitely be picking it up as soon as I can :)


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