After Life by Daniel Ionson

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I received a free physical copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will appeal to people who like darker fantasy that features the after life.

r/fantasy Bingo

  • Self Published Fantasy Novel
  • Novel with Fewer than 2500 Goodreads Ratings
  • Novel Featuring the Fae
  • Stand Alone Fantasy Novel

Plot:

The prologue is short, about 3 pages, and it’s about a Seer who’s having terrible visions. He sees his own death and the deaths of thousands in the world.

Kaemen and his group, the Wolfhounds, come across a village where 23 people have been murdered, and about a dozen have been captured. The villages on the border have been ransacked repeatedly over the last five years, but the King has done nothing about it which is causing frustration and anger in the common folk. Kaeman and crew manage to steal back the kidnapped people and return them to their village, becoming overnight heroes.

The Seer from the prologue comes back and reaches the city where the King resides, and he starts spouting on about “The Darkness” and how it’s coming to take over the world again. Long ago, there was a race called the Nevaelen’s who helped rid the world of darkness, but they’ve since retreated into their own realm and haven’t been heard of in a long time. The King is anxious about these proclamations from the Seer, and sends letters to his friends asking for them to come and aid him – multiple POV’s set out to go join the King, but something strange happens not long after they arrive.

Kaeman and a group of other POV’s find themselves in a strange place, where it looks like you’re viewing the world through blue glass. They have no idea where they got there, they don’t know what’s going on, and they all have different memories of what day it was last, they struggle for a while trying to put the pieces together, and their best guess is that they are all dead, and heading down The Last Road in the afterlife.

On another plotline, there’s a woman named Mallea who was happily involved with a man named Evan. Mallea catches the attention of Skotein, an entity that has been trapped in the Netherworld for centuries. Skotein has been praying to the Unnamed One to help him escape from his hell, and believes he’s been answered when the Seer awakens him unintentionally.  After putting up a fight for some time, the Seer eventually succumbs to Skotein, and Skotein takes possession of his body. After Skotein sees Mallea in the town square, he puts a glamor over himself to disguise himself as Evan, and gets her pregnant. Mallea realizes too late that Evan isn’t her husband anymore, and has a strange vision of a young girl talking to her. It turns out to be her unborn daughter and tells her that death is coming for them both.

Final Score: 12/15


Characters:

Kaeman is a warrior in the Wolfhounds, he’s genuinely moved by the atrocities he sees, not yet jaded or desensitized to the violence he witnesses. He wants justice for people he’s never met and tries his best to seek vengeance on the raider who’ve murdered innocent people. He’s married to a woman named Gwynn, and they have a happy healthy relationship, it’s obvious they care about each other quite a bit.

Dagoran, High Commander of Gaesca, is very good friends with Kaemen, he’s related to him through his marriage with Gwynn – she and Dagoran are cousins.

Lord Alkinan of Aerelia, is pretty easy going for a noble, he takes it to heart when Keamen starts calling him by his first name and gets along with people easily.

Skotein, an evil mage/sorcerer who had been defeated by the Novlealen many centuries before, but he’s been awoken and getting stronger. He prayed to “The Unnamed One” to raise him to power again, and it looks like his prayers were answered.

There are a lot of characters that come and go very quickly, so this is just a short list of who got the most page time.

Final Score: 10.5/15


World Building:

This is a medieval setting in a secondary world, with a 9 story castle made of stone is considered to be the high end of things. Lord Alkinan refers to it as ‘cloud reaching heights’ and looks down on the commoner district with its wooden buildings. The nobles all have finished stone houses with gardens, and his city, Callost, is considered to be the most advanced, safest, and cleanest in the world.

The Novlaelen are a race of people who created the Golden Days, protecting the Aerelians from “The Darkness”-  but they’ve since retreated into their forests and no one has heard of them in a long time. The last remnants of their lore and technology are left in the city of Callost.

Seers are introduced in the prologue, with mages and the undead being introduced not long after it, so I consider this a high magic world.

The place Kaemen and his allies were transported to is very surreal, there’s no animal sounds coming from the woods – no bugs, no bird calls, no life that they can see. There are rivers of ash that flow and the entire landscape looks tinted blue and otherworldly. They come across men with no faces, just skin stretched over the front of their heads with no eyes, mouth or nose. While there, the characters can feel an intense hatred coming from their surroundings, like the land itself was angry at their presence.

Vampyres come into the story later on, but it would get kind of spoilery to go into it.

Final Score: 12/15


Writing/Tone:

There’s a short prologue at the beginning that’s only about 3 pages long, even if you don’t like prologues it’s there and gone quickly.

The first chapter opens with a character walking amongst the corpses of a dead family, it sort of sets the tone for the whole book. It’s a darker book with a lot of violence towards the innocents, children being killed, there’s rape as well – so this isn’t a book for people who don’t like that kind of thing.

The writing was pretty straightforward, this definitely wasn’t a flowery book – the prose really got out of the way of the story. I didn’t notice too many spelling or grammar errors, so overall it was well written.

Final Score: 11/15


Pacing:

It was hard to know where the story was going during the first 20% or so, there were a ton of characters introduced, some of them there and gone within a few pages, so it was slower going in the beginning. Once I hit about 30% things started to pick up a lot with the group getting transported to some strange land without knowing how. There were still POV’s being introduced all the way to the end of the book, so that kind of slowed me down when I hit a new POV. When I was reading from Kaemen’s POV or one of his group things went very quickly.

Final Score: 10.5/15


Originality:

There are a lot of books that talk about the afterlife, or have ghosts or things like that, but it’s not that often that characters go and explore the after life. I had a good time with this one.

Final Score: 11/15


Personal Enjoyment:

I liked how in depth the world building was in this one, there were a lot of different kingdoms, ancient wars, old lore, prophecy and that kind of thing, that’s usually my kind of deal and that’s true for this book as well. The characters left me wanting a little more, some of them were so brief I didn’t get to know them at all. This was definitely a plot-driven story, and I usually prefer at least equal time spent on plot and characters. I did like it though, it had a lot of neat ideas, there were some interesting scenes, and the world building was well done.

Final Score: 7.2/10


Audience:

For People Who Like

  • Multi POV
  • Darker fantasy
  • mages, wizards, and sorcerers
  • dark lords/entities
  • after life
  • vampires

Not For people who don’t like

  • to read about sexual assault
  • cursing

Final Score: 73.75/100 (3.68/5 on Goodreads)

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