“After The Fire” was a great holiday read, as it was a readable and gripping page-turner. It dealt with some pretty heavy themes, but I feel that it was handled in a thought-provoking, yet sensitive manner. Dealing extensively with the themes of religion, power and trauma, the novel tells the story of a cult that exists just outside of Texas. Due to its content, it reminded me of another fantastic novel: The Followers by Rebecca Wait. Both books use a cult organisation to discuss broader themes and I thought both were absolutely fascinating reads.
“After The Fire” picks the story up after the cult has been broken up and uses a “before” and “after” approach to discuss the cult and the after effects on the survivors (interestingly enough, all children). Each chapter is either categorised before or after and sees the protagonist, Moonbeam, interact with the “outsiders”, as she tries to process and deal with what she has just experienced. Being a member of the cult from when she was a baby, Moonbeam offers an intricate look at the way the cult worked and the changes that took place when the charismatic but frightening Father John took control.
One of the most interesting points for me was the discussion of blind faith versus reason and we see this most through Moonbeam’s later interactions with Honey and the other survivors as they discuss the cult and their faith. Moonbeam is surprised to find that some of the others in the camp were not necessarily true believers, whereas she has fully believed in the words of Father John until a much later point.
All in all, the book discusses trauma and the after effects on the victims and we see a host of various characters who represent different aspects of this aftershock: mainly Moonbeam, Honey and Luke. We see how deep these effects can run but also shows how much human beings can handle. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys books dealing with religion, cults, power and psychological effects. Although the themes can be quite heavy, Moonbeam’s attitude and her interactions with Doctor Hernandez and Agent Carlyle lightens the mood slightly and I found her an engaging and likeable protagonist. All in all, a gripping and thought-provoking read.
PS. My music choice for today is “Fire Under My Feet” by Leona Lewis. It’s one of the singles from her most recent album and a good motivation for Monday morning! Enjoy 🙂