The Afterwards by A. F. Harrold

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408894316
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can't imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real? Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld - a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that's what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were?
The wonderfully talented A. F. Harrold, author of The Imaginary, has not disappointed fans with her latest works. This is a heart warming and touching story that delves into the dark side of the afterworld. It explores the emotional roller coaster people can travel on when faced with losing a loved one - the character could easily be a best friend, family member or even a pet. The book leaves us wondering what extremes would we go to if we were able to bring our loved ones back. Themes such as desperation, loss, love and darkness are evident throughout the storyline. Due to the depth of darkness in the book, I would recommend it for children aged 10 and up. It would make a fabulous read aloud and create some interesting discussions. A must have for the library and a welcome addition to the Christmas wish list.
Kathryn Schumacher