Horizon – Aftertime #3

Cass Dollar is a survivor. She’s overcome the meltdown of civilization, humans turned mindless cannibals, and the many evils of man.

But from beneath the devastated California landscape emerges a tendril of hope. A mysterious traveler arrives at New Eden with knowledge of a passageway North—a final escape from the increasingly cunning Beaters. Clutching this dream, Cass and many others decamp and follow him into the unknown.

Journeying down valleys and over barren hills, Cass remains torn between two men. One—her beloved Smoke—is not so innocent as he once was. The other keeps a primal hold on her that feels like Fate itself. And beneath it all, Cass must confront the worst of what’s inside her—dark memories from when she was a Beater herself. But she, and all of the other survivors, will fight to the death for the promise of a new horizon….

This is the third installment in the Aftertime series, of which I read and reviewed the second novel, Rebirth, last year. I saw that it had come up on NetGalley and immediately requested a copy. The second book was really well written for the most part, even though I had some issues with it. In any event, I was eager to see what happened next.

Horizon is set several months after the end of Rebirth. I found this quite jarring, as I wanted to know what happened between the end of the second and beginning of the third books. I got over that soon enough though and found myself being caught up in the story.

I really enjoyed this novel. It blew my mind, punched me in the gut and ruined my ability to read other books for days. Nothing I’ve started since has stacking up with this one. It’s very well written, a fine balance between forwarding the story and also filling in some of the blanks that had been left in the previous two novels (well, I assume they were blanks from the information in the book as I haven’t read the first one yet!).

There is a whole range of new characters in New Eden, but once again this story is about Cass, who has fallen off the wagon and seems caught up in another round of quiet self-destruction. That is until the Beaters learn to swim and threaten to devour their little settlement, forcing everyone to abandon their once safe haven and try to find a new home.

The Beaters were pretty absent in Rebirth – it was less about them, and more about the Rebuilders – so in some senses this was my first real exposure to them. OMG. So good. I love zombies and these ones do not disappoint. I could feel the overall tension building throughout the novel and by the time I’d got less than halfway I had entered the ‘can’t-put-it-down’ zone.

Sophie Littlefield has done an amazing job on this novel. I love all the little plot points that were woven in, the way the characters are all so real and vital, so present in their lives. I loved it when Cass realized she needed to get sober, get herself straight, not for someone else, but for herself, and I LOVED the way the romance line resolved itself. I loved the way relationships changed, evolved, shattered, renewed.

This book had me in tears at the end. Even with three kids running around the house, interrupting me every other page. It’s a dark novel in places, an ‘on-the-edge-of-your-seat’ read at others, but the underlying strength of the characters, their ability to cling to hope in spite of such horrific circumstances is beautiful.

And that is what I was left with. A sense of hope.

So good.

I definitely recommend this book. I’m going to have to go back and read the first one now.


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