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Abby, Ecclesbourne

After the Fire

It has taken me several attempts to find the appropriate way to begin my review of Will Hill's After The Fire. This is not because I didn't enjoy it - I cannot stress enough how much I did, in fact, I adore it - it's not because I don't have anything to say about it, and by no means is it because I have no opinions on it. It is because I have too much to say, and no way of saying these things in a way which will do justice to Hill's beautiful work of art. It's very obvious to me why After The Fire is shortlisted for multiple awards, heralded by reviewers and authors alike and raved about by its readers. It's a very simple reason: Hill has written something undeniably real. It's not non-fiction - Hill makes this very clear in his note - but it is inspired by the very real events of the Waco Siege near the town in Texas in 1993. It's Hill's unique perspective on the real situations that inspire the one that Moonbeam finds herself in that lends the sheer brilliance to his novel that is a rare find. Hill doesn't create, like many authors would, a fantastical story set in The Base, with the heroes either working with those on the outside to take down Father John - the 'Prophet' of the Lord's Legion - or with the protagonists rising up and saving all of the people whom Father John oppresses. He creates a story about a girl who lived under the thumb of a Tyrant and had believed the things that he had told her, because she had never known a life believing in anything other than the Legion she was raised in, and the God that they served. He tells the tale of Moonbeam after the fire that had destroyed the only home she had ever known. It's not the story of the people who took down a power-mad dictator, but of the strength of people who lose everything and are still able to be unstoppably good. Though After The Fire jumps between Before and After, the true storyline that he weaves is Moonbeam's life as she faces the aftermath of the end of the world as she had known it, and what events had led her to where she was. And this story is augmented by events that had happened Before. It's a wonderful storyline, and believable even though it's fiction, which is likely due to the evident research that went into creating it. This research is also clear in the characters that Hill creates, and the empathy that they stir up in even the hardest of hearts, like my own (I may have almost cried at one point there). Whilst the story is not the most unpredictable of all stories, it is very high up there in the most believable and it's thrilling to have read it. I will most certainly be adding After the Fire to my list of good reads and cannot encourage others to give it a try nearly enough, because it's too wonderful to ignore. Will Hill, I can't wait to see what it is that you produce next.

Posted on: 8th May 2018 at 12:51 pm

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