PJV Quickie: This was one of those books that I went in expecting a certain thing and then getting something entirely different. Surprises are always fun, and Terri Bruce delivered a very unique surprise.
What was I expecting? Another Urban Fantasy type novel, maybe with a bit of dry or zany humor thrown in to keep things rolling. Which in the beginning is what Bruce delivered, but then the novel slowly morphed into a very introspective type of discovery novel that at points was quite depressing and at other times full of hope. Upon finishing I was actually at odds with myself as to whether I truly enjoyed the book. Not because of any lacking within the novel, but just because it wasn’t what I expected and it wasn’t within the normal lines of a categorized paranormal or urban fantasy novel. It just wasn’t one of those books that had you swooning over a love interest, or kicking ass with a leather sporting paranormal heroine. It was a thought-provoking and sometimes uncomfortable read that had me at points despising the main character, pitying her and then coming to understand what she is going through.
The whole story is basically a journey that you go on with Irene Dunphey, the main character, who wakes up on the side of the road after a long drinking binge. Once Irene makes it back home she slowly begins to realize that she isn’t exactly living any more. Then, as she is walking around aimlessly, trying to find someone who can explain to her what happened, she crosses paths with someone who can see her and it happens to be a fourteen year old boy with a strange obsession with death. Not exactly Irene’s first choice in playmates but at least he seems to know more about death then she does.
Sounds different right? The official synopsis paints it with that twist of humor that I was really expecting, but it is a tad bit darker then what is portrayed via the cover and synopsis. I was also impressed with how polished Bruce’s writing was, especially with a small press debut. You could tell she did a ton of research on funeral rites and after-life beliefs and the book was one of those “teach” fictions with a good bit of information on different cultures and their views on death. All courtesy of the fourteen year old boy that could travel in the land of the dead.
What did make me stop and question the book was some of the world’s characteristics. The fact that items left for the dead were transferred into the “world of the dead” and that the dead could move stuff around and the living just “ignored” the things they couldn’t explain, just didn’t ring true for me. I did find it interesting though. Whole floors designated for the dead so they wouldn’t harass the living. Cool concept, but just a little off for me, not that most paranormal novels make sense in perspective, but they usually have the ring of truth or try to explain it within our own world.
That would be it for my critique though. Overall ‘Hereafter’ was entertaining, well-written and thought provoking, I enjoyed it and I’m excited to read more of Bruce’s writing. I was also floored by the ending and thought it was a very daring move for Bruce. She definitely didn’t stick to normal genre conventions. Great debut, you might want to check it out, especially if you are looking for something different then the usual fray.
Recommended for adults only, while there is nothing explicit or terribly censor-worthy, there are some topics that I believe are more suitable for a more mature audience. Fans of regular literary fiction could find this a good paranormal crossover.
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