Review by Chinyere Etufugh
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild
Imagine the world AFTER an attack decimates most of what we know as our world today. Well, the characters in this book characterize the events of their lives as things happened to them BEFORE or AFTER this apocalyptic event. This book was a really great read. I was glued to my kindle and couldn’t put it down.
This story starts AFTER by introducing us to Emma Anderson, her biological daughter, Mandy, and 7 other orphans that she has “adopted” while looking for shelter from “the Mists”. The Mists are a nomadic pocket of energy that looks like a white mist. It dissolves people and buildings as it is attracted to specific minerals. It is described as a painful death, so everyone is fearful of breathing when it comes around. Emma has the task of protecting the family from small pockets of rogue survivors as they try to travel to safety in Canada. Apparently there is a place in Canada not affected by the mists according to news reports before communication was completely down.
As Emma inherits these children, she finds that each one has a unique paranormal gift because of the event. One of her children tells her that an approaching convoy comes from a safe camp, so Emma decides to take the children there. After all, it has become increasing difficult for her to take care and provide for 8 children on her own. Emma meets the leader of the group, Arthur, and offers a proposition: shelter and protection in exchange for contributions to his community…including the personal kind from Emma.
Arthur agrees to the deal and adds her family to his existing group. Arthur is portrayed as innovative, resourceful, and a great protector because he can sense the Mists and he can control them by making them go away and he can also dissolve. (What? He can dissolve? How does he stay alive then?) For the first time in a long time, Emma and her children have some sort of shelter and collective harmony. The kids are laughing, reading, and eating decent food. Emma and Arthur start getting closer, but it is clear that they are both keeping secrets from each other. We soon learn that Emma has another reason why she is insisting on getting to Canada.
As they travel, Emma helps the camp with healing and hygiene issues (brushing teeth etc), while Arthur leads the camp with protection and rebuilding for the future. As the non-committal relationship grows into something much stronger, each person’s past begin to come to light. Little by little, the hidden secrets start unfolding, The BEFORE life becomes a barrier for the AFTER life, threatening to destroy what Emma and Arthur have built with one another.
The secondary characters in this book were very interesting. They provided a strong backdrop for this new movement. I loved Laurette, the camp herbalist. This sassy and competitive woman initially came on loan from the female camp. She ended up staying and she was as valuable to the camp as anyone. The female camp she came from consisted of women survivors, many who did not trust men due to crimes committed AFTER. They functioned just as well as the male camps and they ended up being a great ally to Arthur’s camp. It is nice to have a story where there are strong women characters. Emma, Tara, and Laurette were examples of the vast expertise that women add to society. There was a lot more to Alexei, the not-quite villain. He was brutal with glimpses of kindness and there was an inevitable confrontation with Arthur that kept me tense with anticipation.
I was completely engrossed in the story because I wanted to see how the relationship between Arthur and Emma would play out. I also wanted to see how Arthur would manage to create this new civilization he was dreaming of forming. I wanted to see Arthur defeat Alexei and I wanted to see Arthur defeat the mists. The ending was bittersweet, I didn’t get the resolution that I expected and that is okay because this book is the first one part of a trilogy.
I enjoyed the author’s storytelling because it was riveting, but the ending left me stunned. Emma’s last sight out of the plane is what I remember the most and it was not a good feeling for me. I can’t wait for the follow up book because my emotions are dangling on a cliff.
**3rd Place: Best Sci/Fi Series – PRG 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards**
1st Place REVIEWER’S CHOICE AWARD – Best Sci/Fi Novel