A.F. Harrold and Emily Gravett
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Let me say at the outset, this is a remarkable book; intensely moving and quite unlike anything else, even the author’s previous stories, The Imaginary and The Song From Somewhere Else.
The story starts with best friends Ember and Ness who are pretty much inseparable but then comes an announcement in school assembly. There’s been an accident in the park and one of the pupils has died; it’s Ness.
For Ember, the world is unimaginable without her bestest buddy. Then, through another grieving person, she becomes aware of a strange grey afterworld and there she finds Ness again. Can she bring her back? That is Ember’s plan but should she fail, it seems she too will have to remain in that eerie place, leaving behind her Dad and Penny, his partner.
The push and pull between the two worlds presents Ember with a dilemma that is unbearable, especially when she discovers that Ness is not the only one of those she loves in the netherworld.
I’ll say no more about the story itself except that I urge you to read it.
A.F. Harrold’s writing is totally gripping, dark, profound, occasionally scary, and suffused with grief; but it’s also full of love and tenderness, and there’s hope too. There’s also a cat that keeps putting in an appearance. Does that sound a little familiar?
Emily Gravett’s powerfully atmospheric illustrations provide the perfect complement to the text, making one’s reading experience of The Afterwards feel like a seamless whole.