The Afterward is an interesting take on the standard knights-on-a-quest tale. It is a female driven tale of adventure with an underlying tale of romance between an unlikely pair.
If you are looking for a female power novel, this one definitely fits the bill. All the characters, except for one, are female. The only mentions of main characters are passing references to the king, a suitor that is introduced and dies within one chapter and one other male in passing. And while it can get a bit confusing at first when characters are referred to as “Sir”, you quickly realize it is a title of respect and station and does not indicate gender.
The story itself is interesting. Six females and one male embarking on a journey to find a resource that will rid their world of an old demon god. The party is made of a mix of knights, a thief, and one sorcerer. There isn’t a ton of backstory on why the knights were chosen, but it doesn’t really detract from the overall plotline itself. The novel jumps back and forth in time between present (after the quest is completed) and during the quest. The back and forth is easy to follow, but what detracts is the change in perspectives. It takes the first couple paragraphs of every jump to figure out from which character’s perspective you are viewing the scene and I did find it a bit clunky transitionally.
A love story between two females of extremely different stations is interwoven throughout the book. This particular plotline was interesting, but at times it did seem a little angsty and contrived. It’s a little hard to read a book about these amazing strong, smart, confident women who are committed to an enormous task and then in the next paragraph have them all, “does she love me, does she not”. If the author was going for visualization of dichotomous positions, it worked.
Overall, it is not a bad read. Likely will appeal more to females in the high school range. The ending is a little abrupt, but it is a conclusive ending and therefore would not expect a sequel.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy provided by the Publisher
Profanity/Language: 7 mild obscenities; 1 scatological word.
Violence/Gore: 3 page story of god being killed; various bumps, scrapes and broken bones from sparring; graphic depiction of women’s first period; 4 different battle scenes ranging from two to five pages that are bloody and graphic in detail with wounds, amputations and death of both human and demons; recall of a brain seen in battle; man dies from brain aneurysm; an arm is crushed; people are walled in sewer resulting in death.
Sex/Nudity: Woman undresses (no detail); discussion of birth control; short discussion on sexual preferences of a character; 2-page scene of women kissing and ending up in bed together; women sleep together on multiple occasions with no detail; 6 kisses between same and opposite sex partners; 2-page discussion of bisexuality; implied oral sex between women.
Mature Subject Matter:
Stealing, socioeconomic conflict, terminal illness, sexuality, lesbian/homosexuality/bisexuality, ethics.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Women drink liquor.