Book Review: “Afterwards” by Rosamund Lupton

Last year I read Rosamund Lupton‘s novel “Sister” and loved it. The twist at the end was absolutely ingenious, making me want to read it all over again!

Last month I read her second novel “Afterwards“, again a detective story.

This time it is not the sister, but a mother trying to solve the crime committed against a member of her family. Except this mother is lying in hospital in a coma…

On a summer afternoon a terrible fire breaks out in the primary school. As it is sports day the building is practically empty. However, Grace, our protaganist, knows her teenage daughter is still in there, standing in as school nurse for the day. Grace tries to rescue her, but both are badly injured and burned. This is where the story begins.

I’d call it a fantasy detective novel…

In a state between life and death Grace and her daughter Jenny are able to walk around the hospital, invisible to everyone, and listen in to the investigations and conversations around them… It is actually Grace’s sister-in-law who has to solve the crime of who laid the fire, since Grace is unable to communicate with the real world.

I admit I had real problems with this situation at first. The word “far-fetched” comes to mind. Yet after my brain had accepted this state of affairs, with the two main characters existing outside their bodies, I was able to focus on the story itself.

With loads of suspense, lots of red herrings, and plenty of emotions, it’s quite a roller-coaster ride! I got completely caught up in it, and found it riveting (even though I had to keep telling my common sense to switch itself off!).

A mother’s limitless love, an aunt’s fierce protective nature, a child’s fear and trauma, the strong connection between husband and wife…

… these are all portrayed with depth and emotion. Rosamund Lupton creates a drama with almost flawless family relationships. Perhaps this is what kept my attention most.

There ARE  flaws in the storyline, and my constant struggle with this out-of-body thing distracted me the whole time, but despite my first impression that it was weird(!), it got good later on and with all the false leads and the dramatic suspense I found it a very enjoyable read.

Only, the ending was not what I would have wished…

If you have read it, I’d love to hear what you think!