Published: June 24th 2015 by Text Publishing
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Genres: Horror, Thriller/Mystery
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Since her parents died in a freak motorbike accident, Sophie Teague’s life has fallen apart.
But she’s just enrolled at a new high school, hoping for a fresh start.
That’s until Eve, a beautiful ghost in black, starts making terrifying nightly appearances, wanting Sophie to be her hands, eyes and go-to girl.
There are loose ends that Eve needs Sophie to tie up. But dealing with the dead might just involve the greatest sacrifice of all.
An eerie tale of ghosts, hauntings and gate-keepers, Afterlight is a gorgeous work of magical realism set in the sinister alleyways of Melbourne.
Sophie Teague lives with her grandmother above the pub her family has always owned. Still grieving the deaths of her parents in a tragic accident, she changes schools to get away from the stares and gossip. As if all that wasn’t enough, Sophie starts to see a ghost. Eve, as Sophie names this silent apparition, sends Sophie on a series of missions that end in Soph saving three lives and returning a gold ring and a shirt. She attracts the attention of the local police, Today Tonight and the cute boy that every girl in school wishes would notice her, Jordan Haig.
Sophie’s not confident. She hates basically everything about herself – from her height to her red hair to the way she blushes. And honestly, it’s exhausting to read from the point of view of someone who dislikes themselves that much. Rebecca Lim always writes broken protagonists, but something about the way Sophie talked about herself got under my skin. It’s not that I didn’t like Sophie – I feel like I was never given a chance to like her because she kept putting herself down.
However, it cannot be denied that Sophie is painted incredibly realistically. Perhaps that’s why I found her self-hate so disturbing. The same cannot be said for her love interest. Jordan Haig is a cardboard cutout of a character, an incredibly hot hunk who’s hiding a dark secret and who, despite having never shown interest in any of the other girls in school (and especially not the catty blonde and her two best friends), is already head over heels for Sophie by the time they first speak to each other. This was the most disappointing aspect of the novel for me. It was a terrible case of insta-love, aggravated by Sophie’s insistence that he was not interested in her, because, well, look at her.
This book is surprisingly lacking in answers. Having introduced hauntings, strange tattoos in Latin and French, and the mysterious gatekeepers, Lim ends Afterlight on a cliffhanger and leaves us with more questions than answers. In fact, this books reads like the first book in a duology; an instalment that sets up a sequel with all the answers. Except there are no hints at a sequel!
Afterlight is an intense read. It introduces us to a dark and gritty side to Melbourne, where crime and darkness and desperation exist side by side. It’s a world of ghosts and motorcycle gangs and violence, blended so seamlessly that it’s easy to believe in it all.
I enjoyed Afterlight, as I have enjoyed all of Lim’s works. She’s an expert at telling these stories, where the natural world brushes against the supernatural with unexpected consequences. But I hope there’s more to this world and these characters, because as it stands, Afterlight doesn’t reach its full potential.