After the Fire is a fictional novel written by Will Hill, and is centred on a young girl called Moonbeam who happened to be a part of a cult called ‘The Lords Legion’, but that’s not all. As the title says, Moonbeam has been witness to a huge fire at the cult’s base which has killed most of the people she called Brothers and Sisters. Now she is in the care of a Government section called the ATF, whereby we learn about her life in The Lords Legion and what really happened as she is interviewed by a Doctor and a FBI agent.
Here is where Moonbeam will begin her trip back to before the fire…
This story starts off pretty sharply, with the fire currently blazing away and our main character in panic and pain. At first I was confused as to what was going on, and I liked that I felt this way because it meant that I was in store for some pretty riveting and potentially shocking information. Little did I know how long the story would take until we actually reach the explanation as to what led to the events that start off the story. Despite its length though, I enjoyed every page and even gasped at a few parts because of the disgust or sadness that I was experiencing. Every chapter had me feeling an emotion, but the last 200 pages had me at my most shocked because of the amount of twists that appeared. Disbelief ran through me and anger was something I felt too, so I must say that this story was an emotional journey that I wasn’t expecting.
Additionally, I found the non-chronological sequence of the story a better fit for it as it allowed for me to connect better with the main character as she told the story in parts whereby she felt strong enough to let the Doctor and FBI agent know, but it also allowed for an easier emotional response to events because of how intense they got as you progressed through the book. Essentially, I thought it was a good way to get through to the reader and allow a better build up of emotions because of how worse and unbelievable events became as Moonbeam spilled all.
Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars
Moonbeam is the central character within this story as it is her side of events and her experiences that tell us everything about The Lords Legion and where she fitted into everything. She’s a character that is clearly in shock after the fire (I mean who wouldn’t be?) and we are led to belief that she is to blame for the fire due to what she says inside her head. I liked this element of voices in her head because it added an extra something to her character that made her feel a bit more real to me, and gave me a bit of a better understanding towards Moonbeam as she’s a character who’s still in the middle of forgetting The Lords Legion and its’ beliefs or thinking it could be all true.
Even though she was a bit of a muddled character at first, I grew to like her and feel empathy towards her as the story progressed. The life she lived and things she experienced were terrifying, and I really wanted her to have a happy ending, but as to whether or not she did is for you to find out.
The Doctor and FBI agent that interviewed Moonbeam were likeable characters, and I found them to be really nice and understanding. They weren’t emotionless, but I did find the Doctor’s use of jargon to be a bit too professional as I thought Moonbeam wouldn’t be able to understand half of what he was talking about. Even so, Moonbeam came out of her shell as the story went on, and I found her ease with both men welcoming as it meant she was being brave for the sake of getting everything off her chest and telling them everything, even if she didn’t fully trust them yet.
Lastly, the one character that stood out and was to blame for everyone’s misery…Father John. The leader of The Lords Legion and alleged messenger of the Lord Himself. I can’t express my hatred for this man in words, but I will say this. He was an evil and power-hungry man who was the only one who benefitted from the cult (as per usual in cults).
Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars
In all honesty, the first few pages had me fuelled with curiosity, but after that it was a little slow. I stopped reading this book for about a week or two before I got back to reading it, and by then I became a bit more hooked as I progressed with the story and learned more and became intrigued again. Basically, it doesn’t become truly gripping until the last 200 pages when everything is just causing emotions to run through the reader like crazy.
Grip Rating: 1½ out of 2 Stars
In all, I really enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to anyone who finds cult based stories interesting. I am definitely a person who is intrigued by the power cults can hold over people, and I truly sympathise with those who have been through traumatic events caused by involvement in cults or anything else similar. This novel is an eye opener as it shows what kind of damage is inflicted on those who survive events like this, and I thank Will Hill for providing a novel that really gets the reader thinking and feeling.
Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 1½ = 9½ out of 10 Stars
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