It’s a real pleasure today to share my review of Aftershocks by Phill Featherstone, available now for kindle and published in paperback on 28th January (available for pre-order). Having so enjoyed Paradise Girl (you’ll find my review here) – this book is its companion, but both books stand alone – I had the privilege of being an early reader, and my thanks to the author for my advance reading e-copy
A highly infectious and incurable virus spreads worldwide, eventually reaching the UK. The Shaw family live on an isolated Pennine farm. They think that their remote location will keep them safe from the infection, but they are wrong. A stranger comes to their door and brings the disease with him.
Lander Shaw, the twin brother of Kerryl, the ‘paradise girl’ of the first book, leaves the farm and embarks on a journey to discover more about the infection and to seek a better future. He travels the length of the country, encountering both the best and the worst of humanity on a journey that is both a pilgrimage and a voyage of self-discovery. In a series of exciting episodes he is robbed, captured, and has to face a terrible choice, and realises that not everything – or everyone – is as they at first seem.
Young adult, dystopian, featuring a teenage boy – really not one you’d expect me to enjoy, I suspect. But, as with Paradise Girl, I’d urge you not to be put off by any preconceptions about this one: while it might well appeal to a rather younger, maybe late teenage (and possibly male) reader, this is fine writing and an engrossing story that would certainly appeal equally to the more mature reader. There are links to the earlier book – all explained – and this book quite comfortably stands alone.
It’s a real page turner – Lander’s organised departure from the Pennine farm thwarted by circumstance, the encounters and occasional acts of kindness as he continues his journey, the emotional content, the moments of danger and dreadful cruelty, and the sinister developments underpinning the whole story. And the vivid imagination behind the absorbing and believable story is more than matched by the author’s skills as a storyteller – I read it in two long sittings, really drawn in by Lander’s strong and distinctive “voice”, intrigued by the story’s context, fascinated by the diverse characters, the descriptions and strong sense of place.
It’s disturbing, and I know that post apocalyptic backdrop might not be to everyone’s taste, but I thought it was excellent, with a depth and emotional engagement that’s rarely found in a book aimed at a younger audience or with such subject matter. Highly recommended by me.
About the author
Phill was born in West Yorkshire, England, a few miles from the village of Haworth, where his heroines, the Brontë sisters, lived and wrote. After living all over the UK he’s now returned to his roots.
Phill’s first novel, Paradise Girl, is set in these same northern hills where, amidst the majestic beauty of the rolling moors, a lone young woman faces a bleak future. Paradise Girl received a Chill With a Book Readers’ Award, and in February 2018 was named Chill Book of the Month: it also received a 2018 B.R.A.G. Medallion. A new edition – with new cover & ISBN – was published on 18th November 2018.