Book Review: The Afterwards by A.F Harrold (Illustrated by Emily Gravett)

Add The Afterwards to your Goodreads TBR:

Publishing in Paperback on the 1st October, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Australian RRP: $16.99

Pre Order/Purchase Links:

Bloomsbury Publishing:



Angus & Robertson:

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Fiction.

Page Count: 197

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Sypnosis from Bloomsbury Publishing:

Fact: Ember and Ness are best friends.
There’s nothing more to say about it. It is what it is. It is what will always be. Ember and Ness.
Then Ness dies. It is sudden and unexpected and leaves Ember completely empty. How can this be?
When Ember finds a way into the Afterworld, she determines to bring Ness back. Because that’s what friends do isn’t it? They rescue each other. They help. They never give up. Ember and Ness. That don’t change.

A powerful, poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about friendship at its most extraordinary.

My Review:

I received a finished copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

This is such a moving and more often than not, a heartbreaking read! At its core, The Afterwards is a story about friendship and the extent one would go to save one’s best friend, as Ember does when she learns Ness tragically passes away during a terrible accident.

It’s also a story of acceptance too, and coming to terms with something tragic. In that sense, I definitely think that this book is quite an important one, I haven’t personally come across a lot of Middle Grade Fiction that deals with addressing the death of a friend, but I was definitely moved quite considerably by The Afterwards.

Yes, Ember does absolutely act irrational and dangerously when she believes she can bring back Ness from the dead, but did I blame her?

Absolutely not – all throughout this book, I felt like I was in her shoes, if my best friend died horribly and if I felt there was a way to bring them back, would I try? Of course, who wouldn’t?

All Ember has in life is her best friend, Ness, and her Dad, Harry. She and Ness do everything together, they walk to school and play and even share their lunches and equally divide a single chocolate biscuit. It was so precious and endearing reading about their young friendship and their cute interactions and sharing!

Then, one day at school, Ember doesn’t see Ness, she doesn’t know what’s happened to her best friend, only she senses a not so great feeling within her being. Then one of her Teachers announces that one of their classmates has passed away after hitting their head whilst playing on the swings, not initially saying who, but of course we know, as Ember knows too, it’s her Ness who has passed away.

Enter Ember’s odd Uncle, I say odd because initially I just thought he was just everyone’s quirky Uncle, but it soon became evident that there was more darkness than odd under the surface with him. See, it’s revealed that he lost his beloved Canine companion, and he wants to get her back too.

When Ember finds herself unexpectedly but perhaps not surprisingly reunited with Ness, things definitely take a darker turn here. See, Ember finds Ness sort of in a state of limbo, neither fully alive but not fully dead in this gap between the present and reality.

What follows is a profoundly moving journey, of friendship, acceptance, family and a helpful talking cat who’s wisdom definitely won’t be forgotten. There was also one twist in this book that I definitely didn’t see coming, focusing on Ember’s character, that it was definitely hard not to be equally horrified and moved by!

I definitely recommend The Afterwards, I finished it in the space of a couple of hours, read it and I’m sure you’ll be moved, too.

Happy Reading,



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