I won this book in competition from the publisher Usborne and will give an honest review in exchange.
After the Fire follows Moonbeam, a young woman who has inside a facility aimed at helping young people who have gone through trauma. In this case she has escaped from a compound where she was living as part of a cult known as the Lord’s Legion. Throughout the book we read through segments of Moonbeam’s life inside the compound as she talks to her psychiatrist Doctor Robert Hernandez. Her life is an eye opener for him, the reader and Moonbeam as she begins to realise what she has considered normal is far from it in the outside world.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The book was written brilliantly and the storytelling is superb. While the initial premise of the book may seem boring, a young girl talking to her Doctor there are flashes of action and moments of being throughout which keep the narrative fresh and constant. Hill’s storytelling is captivating as he creates a main protagonist who is unreliable, flawed and constantly learning and adapting her own way of telling her story, omitting information and only giving what is needed.
Moonbeam is incredible. Brave, strong and willing for change, she carries so much guilt and anger for the acts committed by others and wishes that she and tries to all she can to make it right. But, even outside of the compound she still feels the unrelenting force that was Father John Parson shouting in her head, trying to force her to be a mindless person. Over the progress of the novel we see her slowly fight his influence and open up to those around her. Unlike some of the other children that made it out she is able to process what is happening around her as a good thing and the “process” in which they all undergo will eventually make them better people.
Knowing that this tale is based on real life events only makes the reading all the more harrowing. I think after reading this book many people will be able to see how lucky they are in life. Hill shows both sides of this religious following, from those who see it as a simple way of life to others who wish to bring about the end times. Religion affects people in different ways, what may be redemption for one person may be damnation for another. Hill has shown us great insight into the darker end of this life and done so without it being too down heartening; throughout there are moments of levity which certainly help to balance the novel out.
Released this month I would certainly recommend for anyone to buy it. While it may be a horrible realisation into the pain and control people will inflict on others it is also a tale of making it through to the other side and breaking free from said people.