Book Review: The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

Published in Australia on the 2nd September, 2020 by Walker, an imprint of Walker Books Australia.

Purchase Links:



Amazon AU:

Boomerang Books:

Australian RRP: $18.99

ISBN: 9781406391121

Binding/Format: Paperback

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Thriller, Paranormal, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy.

Page Count: 427

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Walker Books Australia

What if death is only the beginning? When Harriet Stoker dies falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, or even the ability to possess the living. As she learns more about their community, Harriet is willing to do anything to unleash her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy. Because who knows what grudges people have been holding onto for millennia, just waiting for a reckless girl to give them the chance to get vengeance.

My Review:

I received a copy of The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker from Walker Books Australia in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own

Honestly, I had such a love/hate relationship with this books’ titular character pretty much from the get go! I mean, initially I’m completely feeling sorry for her because she’s dead and honestly if I died and saw my own dead body and everything then I’d be freaking out too!I mean, of course you’d want to get back to your loved ones, especially given how Harriet has a dear old Granny who’s always looked after her and Harriet knows she’s worry about her not coming home, seen as Harriet was talking to her Granny as she tragically fell to her death! I just found Harriet’s sheer perseverance about getting home, even though it’s articulated pretty clearly that ghosts can’t leave the building otherwise they’ll disintegrate. So yes, one could definitely say that Harriet had a larger than life determination to escape her now ghostly ways!

It’s just, when Harriet realises she’s stuck in the building where she died and can’t quite let it go that she can’t leave unscathed, that she learns she will soon uncover her unique power as a ghost, she becomes quite addicted to some really not great things and foolishly befriends some really less than friendly ghosts, as Harriet fell harder into the murky depths of being a ghost and thriving on the energy of, well…you’ll see (I will just say though that I felt really bad for the other friendly ghosts when they learnt what Harriet did and how she was effectively using them for her own gain).

I absolutely loved the other main characters and narrators through The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker! Rina, Leah, Kasper and Felix were all absolutely amazing narrators and I loved reading about their interactions together and their very different opinions of Harriet! I won’t seperate them too much because I honestly wouldn’t want to deprive a reader of meeting these sweethearts for the first time and reading about their unique traits and history (although I was quite sceptical about Kasper until towards the ending, truthfully!), but Rima and Leah were honestly such brilliant characters, and that sweetheart Felix, just oh my heart! Honestly, at so many points I really felt like I enjoyed reading from Felix’s and Rima’s points of views, rather than reading about Harriet’s slightly maddening descent into, well…madness!

Also though, I love how diversely orientated these characters are! Although I shouldn’t say this as a surprise, given how wonderfully inclusive Lauren James often is in her writing! I love that we’re given a pansexual main character and one of the most wonderfully anguished male upon male crushes, and hints towards a most endearing female/female relationships! Honestly upon the latter I’m not too sure if it’s just my excitement and my interpretation at least, but I’m sticking by it! I loved also the little details about this book too, such as Rima’s beloved pet spirit fox and just honestly the whole book was slightly morbid given some occurrences of what happens throughout, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker is just one of the most unique books I’ve read!

I found myself slightly perplexed at the reveal regarding the plot twist towards the end (and then the low-key astounding albeit slightly perplexing reveal that came after that!), but honestly I don’t think I can be too concerned by it as it just made my eyebrows skyrocket in slight disbelief and honestly as much as I might’ve felt grated and not altogether surprised, I just feel like everything really came together as it was meant to! Honestly, there were points throughout when I was reading this book where I tried to procrastinate finishing this book, just because of my initial frustration turned into eventual endearment towards Harriet Stoker, especially given the penultimate ending!

I definitely see myself rereading this book in the not too near distant future, it’s honestly just so fun, unique, morbid, addictive, intriguing and will keep you turning the pages! I completely recommend if you’re looking for a thrilling and exciting and completely spooky read!

Happy Reading,


Author Information:

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated author of The Quiet at the End of the WorldThe Loneliest Girl in the UniverseThe Starlight Watchmaker and The Next Together series. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was twenty-one. Lauren teaches creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor and Writing West Midlands, and has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian and the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. She is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles. She lives in the West Midlands and you can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website

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