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Review – The Afterward by E.K. Johnston

The Afterward by E.K. Johnston

Book Title: The Afterward

Book Description: It has been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s King and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought the gem home are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity do not come easily. Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn’t meant for heroism this early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she has earned, her reputation does not pay her bills. With time running out, Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.  Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar, pick pocket, thief, she lived hand to mouth on the city streets until fortune –or fate- pulled her into Kalanthe’s orbit. And now she’s quite reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her recognizable, which makes her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn’t much of a choice at all. 

Book Author: E.K. Johnston

Book Format: Paperback

Date published: 2019-02-19

Number Of Pages: 352

Overall
8.4/10
8.4/10
  • Writing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Development - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Overall - 8.75/10
    8.8/10
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Review – The Afterward by E.K. Johnston

 

The Afterward is the newest novel from the mind of E.K. Johnston. Personally, I knew that I was going to have to read anything by her after falling in love with her Ahsoka novel, so this was a no brainer for me. I’m glad I gave the novel a chance though because it was everything that I hadn’t realized that I was looking for. And that’s no exaggeration.

It is a standalone novel, which is perfect for anybody that just wants to pick it up and give it a read. The book is about an epic quest, but it isn’t told quite like any other epic I’ve read. It’s refreshing and new all in one.

When I first read the description of The Afterward, I was concerned that it was following events from another book. That isn’t the case, and the novel does make a point of explaining everything, just in its own time. So don’t let that concern put you off from trying it.

Writing

The Afterward by E.K. Johnston
The Afterward by E.K. Johnston

The Afterward is an epic fantasy tale, but it doesn’t tell the story in a way you’d expect. It’s nonlinear, jumping back and forth between two points in time. The first point in time and the namesake for the novel is after the epic quest has been completed. That sounds counterintuitive, but it makes more sense as time goes on.

The other perspective is the epic quest itself – everything building up to it, such as the traveling, and then finally the major moment that redefined all their lives. It was an interesting choice to be telling us two stories at the same time like this, but it did a wonderful job of showing us how the two are integrally connected.

The creative storytelling technique supported the plot (s) perfectly in this case. It was clever and well used. It gave E.K. Johnston more time to develop her characters and world as well, so it was efficient on top of everything else.

The characters were strong, human, and flawed. In short, they were exactly the sort of characters one would hope to see in an epic quest. They’re the sort of characters we can connect to. They had hopes and dreams, as well as barriers to stop them from getting what they wanted.

Development

Both stories told within this one novel were interesting, but I believe that they were made stronger by telling them together as one. Having bold unfold slowly gave us the time to understand the world and characters involved, while also keeping the pace moving forward steadily. In fact, bouncing back and forth between the two points ensured that there was always something going on for us to care about.

It also built up the tension. Both plots hit their climatic points more or less around the same time. And while we could surmise some of the outcomes of the epic quest (in that we could at least guess who lived, based on who was present for the second story), we had no such basis for any assumptions when it comes to the second set of events. That’s a given for any story, but the juxtaposition really did increase the anxiety I experienced, waiting to see what was going to happen.

Some of the developments that occurred may have felt just a little bit too convenient…but honestly, they weren’t really the major focus of the novel. So I was willing to give them a pass there. Plus it fit in well with all of the characters introduced. Likely there was just a lack of time to make it feel more organic.

Conclusion

The Afterward was everything I had been looking for in an epic quest, and then some. The plot itself was thrilling enough to keep me interested, while the characters were so wonderfully human. It didn’t take much effort to feel connected to them. And thus naturally any reader would be hoping for their success.

While The Afterward is a standalone novel, it would certainly be interesting if another novel coming out focused more on the secondary members of the team. They were well designed and likely could have supported a plot on their own, and there’s a lot left to explore with them.

 


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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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