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Jamie, Sheldon Shadowers

After the Fire

*Minor spoilers*

'After the Fire' is a great book which addresses the issues of cults, brainwashing and dictators. Largely based on the Waco siege of 1993, it shows the techniques the leader of 'The Lord's Legion', Father John, uses to make people believe that he is a prophet and that all people outside of his territory are evil, or as he says 'Servants of the Serpent.'

The book switches between Before and After the fire, an event which *without spoiling anything* the main character, Moonbeam, thinks she was responsible for.

In 'before' chapters it shows the many events that Moonbeam goes through, including her Mother's banishment from the legion, the mysterious Nate who appears out of the blue and of course Luke, one of or if not the most loyal member to Father John in the entire Legion.

Before chapters are often followed by after chapters, in which Moonbeam is talking to Doctor Hernandez and Agent Carlyle, a psychiatrist and an agent from the FBI about the events of the previous chapter.

After the Fire, Moonbeam is confined indoors to a small space for a few months with some survivors of the fire while she gets more and more confident with talking to 'Outsiders'. I think the reader of this book will enjoy watching Moonbeam develop her confidence around these people, standing by not saying anything and still believing deeply in Father John all the way to believing Father John is a liar and a criminal and these 'Outsiders' are good people. Also, another method used to heal these people is SSI, a daily afternoon meeting in which all survivors meet and talk while being surveyed. In the middle of the book, these turn very violent, especially thanks to Luke still firmly believing in Father John whereas the majority of people have at least partly lost their faith in him.

Overall, I think this is a very good book, and would be a very deserving winner of the CILIP Carnegie award. I find that the reader will strike an instant relationship with Moonbeam, and quickly get views on many other characters, some positive (Honey, Nate) and some negative (Father John, Luke). If there was one slight drawback it would be the back cover does not advertise the type of book it is, and that may not help people considering to buy / borrow it. However, with the type of book this is, it is fairly acceptable for information about it to be a little vague.

Posted on: 16th May 2018 at 11:59 am

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