The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.
Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything―and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.
Then came the fire.
After the Fire is a chilling look inside the workings of a dangerous cult through a young woman’s perspective. I have not read a book that has affected me as much as After the Fire has, and it will be on my mind for quite a long time.
I am an avid reader of young adult novels. I love the risks so many authors take in the genre, and how the portrayal of young people is so profound. However, when I came across After the Fire I knew that this novel would be particularly special. I have never come across young adult novels that focus on cults, and After the Fire immediately caught my eye.
Will Hill’s writing is haunting and drags you into the story within the first few pages. Even though this book could be considered controversial because it doesn’t portray cults in a positive light and involves religion, Hill’s writing was unbiased and realistic. Even though the cult and circumstances surrounding it were fictional, I read the novel as though it was a true crime.
After the Fire is split into chapters labeled as “Before” or “After” the fire. The layout allows the reader to enter the mind of Moonbeam, the novel’s protagonist, while also immersing them in the cult’s clutches. The mental portrayal of how a young woman was permanently affected by a cult that had become her entire life was astounding, and it helped me to better understand the mental control that is associated with cults. Due to Hill’s mature writing, I soon forgot that I was reading a young adult novel. After the Fire is a novel that I would have loved to read when I was a young adult. It is raw and brutal, but the pain is so exquisite.
Each of the characters in After the Fire had a purpose, and I appreciated how each of them evolved to further explain the story. Usually in novels with packed storylines, plot holes can occur; however, this was not the case with Hill’s writing. He approached the topic of the cult with a sensitive hand, and his portrayal of cult members demonstrated the diverse reactions that individuals experience in cults or in a situation of control. Some characters made me hate the cult, while others helped me to understand how the cult had become their salvation.
After the Fire is a graphic portrayal of a young woman’s association with a cult, and how the cult became her family, but also her demon. The mental portrayal of grief and control is astounding, and I was proud to find such an intense young adult novel. After the Fire is a book that changes you, and readers of all ages should pick up this book now!