A chilling new novel about a girl who must delve into her past if she wants to live long enough to have a future when a series of murders that are eerily similar to the dark stories her brother used to tell start happening in her hometown.
Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.
Then came after.
After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten. Love, blood, and murder.
In Sirowy's second novel, after The Creeping, a macabre spirit haunts Gant Island, home to Pacific Northwest multimillionaires. A few months ago, 17-year-old Lana McBrook was "an earthworm dreaming of being a python," happy to spend the summer before her senior year studying with her best friend Willa. Now following the disappearance and presumed death of Lana's stepbrother, Ben, after a gruesome attack she parties with the popular clique, including longtime crush Josh Parker. Then the group discovers the drowned remains of Ben's girlfriend, Maggie, suspected of aiding in his disappearance. As more bodies appear, Lana, who admits "I am a sometimes liar," decides that Ben's ghost has returned to avenge their enemies. When the murders include clues from Ben's nightmarish childhood stories, Lana bravely investigates, coming to terms with her conflicted feelings for Josh and Ben. Though overly florid descriptions and a sensationalist plot detract from the gothic strains somewhat, Siroway's cliffhangers and red herrings lure readers toward a haunting finale. Intriguing questions about the nature of storytelling permeate this addictive novel. Ages 12 up.