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Review: Hereafter

Hereafter by Tara Hudson was released in the U.S. on June 7, 2011 in hardcover, eBook and audio formats. It is currently available online in all formats at Amazon and in hardcover and eBook formats at Barnes & Noble.

Published by HarperTeen, the print edition is 416 pages.

Hereafter is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com.

Goodreads description:

Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won’t want to miss.

***

Amelia wasn’t sure just how long she wandered beside the riverbank shouting at passersby to try and capture their attention.

It could have been months or even years. But the numbness she felt toward her surroundings and the fog she waded through made distinguishing the days difficult.

All she knew was that she was alone, a ghost among the living, and that the nightmares she had about her death were the only things that reminded her that at one time she had been alive.

She did not know how long she had been in this state, this in between, and she didn’t know how long it would continue. But if it weren’t for the boy, she thought it might have continued forever.

This boy who plunged into her river, whose life she could see ebbing from him in front of her very eyes. Who would die if she couldn’t do anything to save him.

But she was never visible to the living, her cries could not be heard and her touch could not be felt. She had no way to prevent his demise, no matter how badly all of a sudden she wanted to. How desperately she needed to.

And when he opened his eyes and saw her. Really saw her. She knew that somehow she had to save him. Because for the first time, in who knows how long, that feeling of aimlessness left her. She felt a connection to him, a connection to the world of the living.

But ghosts weren’t supposed to be seen and spirits weren’t supposed to remain unclaimed for as long as she was.

And now that she was no longer drifting she would have to make a choice. Try to find the path toward somewhere else, somewhere away from the darkness beneath the bridge or choose to join with the Eli and fulfill whatever dark purpose he had in store for her.

But whatever choice she made would be away from the boy she saved. Away from the boy she loved. Because no matter what choice she made it was not here with Joshua in the land of the living but somewhere in the hereafter.

***

Hereafter is a timeless and beautiful and very unconventional love story that is sad and sweet and so completely romantic.

It is the story of a beautiful girl, a wayward spirit, who is lost until she saves a boy from meeting the same fate she had.

Her rescue of him helped to save her, too. But it also captured the attention of a power hungry spirit, Eli, who was determined for her to join him and together they would exist in this world beneath the one she now occupied, luring other spirits in to build up this netherworld.

While she knew that she did not want to join him, or serve the masters he served, she was looking for answers that only he could provide. But with limited choices and a time clock that was counting down, she would have to make a deal with him in order to get the answers she needed before time ran out for her and for Joshua.

Author Tara Hudson has a written a captivating first book in this new series. Each piece of the puzzle about who Amelia is gets filled in over the course of the story, but questions still remain about what she is capable of, how will she fight the powers of darkness, how long can she remain as she has been, and what is to become of her and Joshua.

Will their love truly be able to survive death? With two more books planned in the series we may not get an answer to that question for awhile, but this is definitely an alluring new series to follow.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=4]

On a personal note:

There is something very “bygone era” about Hereafter. I’m not sure if it was the setting or the character names, but even though it took place in the present, I felt like I was taken back to the 1800s and Amelia and Joshua were from a different time. And it was this timeless quality that made their romance even more enchanting.

I loved how the story was set up. Right from the start I was taken into Amelia’s world – lost and confused and terrified and alone.

Her only connection, the only thing that grounds her, comes in the form of the boy, Joshua, who she saves from a death similar to her own. And it is Joshua who helps her find out who she was and just what happened to her.

I love the fact that he is so quick to accept her existence. And even though it may seem fast, it is explained in the story in a way that is very believable.

The love story was heartwarming, but wasn’t even my favorite part of this story. I can hardly believe it myself – as that’s almost always the thing that reels me in. But it was the mystery about the darkness under the bridge, the netherworld, Amelia’s uniqueness, and Eli that kept me riveted to the story.

And all the challenges she and Joshua face, as well as the possibilities the two of them may have for a future, kept my curiosity piqued about what else I might expect in the next book in the series.

Hereafter starts off at a slower pace that continues to build throughout the story, until the last third of the book, which is fast-paced and action-packed. Even though it started off slower, the entire story was a very quick read. The writing had a nice flow and kept me engaged with the characters and the plot from beginning to end.

I definitely have a little crush on Joshua, even though he’s almost too good to be true. But I hope there is no dark side to his character that will make an appearance later in the series.

Favorite passage:

I could feel it all: the pressure of his arms around me, the grip of his fingers at my waist, the warmth of his breath on my skin. Everything I knew about myself and my relationship to the living world told me this was impossible. But that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was that I felt alive. I felt everything.

Book trailer for Hereafter:

This review is based on an eARC I received courtesy of HarperTeen and NetGalley.

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