After the Fire by Will Hill – Review by Shannon Baer
Everyone has their own concept of what creates a family. For Moonbeam, it is her mom and the other members of the Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion. Set in Texas, the group resides on a compound just outside of town. They are a mostly self-sustaining group, and in the past have driven to the Outside to recruit new members. That, however, was before the arrival of Father John Parsons. The cult community becomes cut off from the world, save the weekly expedition for supplies accomplished by Amos. They seem happy, caring, and secure in their love for each other and the Lord’s love for them as they wait for their moment of Ascension. When the handsome and friendly Nate Childress joins the fold, Moonbeam’s life is flipped in ways she never thought could be hers.
Moonbeam wakes to find herself in a locked psychiatric facility following the raid that burns the only home she has ever known to the ground. In her recovery, she is forced to examine and reevaluate her beliefs of the Lord, family, and what makes one a good human. With the help of her psychiatrist and an FBI agent, Moonbeam navigates her conflicting thoughts and feelings as she desperately struggles to come to terms with her experiences.
Told in alternating time periods, After the Fire is loosely based on the raids on the Branch Davidian compound run by David Koresh in the early 1990’s. Hill lets us see into the workings of a psychologically and emotionally controlling atmosphere, as well as the mind of a girl who must stand up and find her own inner strength. This is an engrossing novel with a fresh topic that will have you riveted until the bitter end.
Shannon Baer is a self-proclaimed book sniffer and contemporary YA fanatic. When not teaching,her favorite place to be is on the couch with her family and two cats, sipping a warm beverage and losing herself in YA literature.