I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.After the Fire by Will Hill
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on October 2, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense, YA
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The things I've seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.
Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John's words. Outside, there are different truths.
Then came the fire.
After the Fire weaves a heartbreaking story of one teens life before and after being rescued from the Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion, a Texas cult lead by Father John. Moonbeam is only seventeen years old, but for most of her life she has lived in the Lord’s Legion and has been taught to never trust Outsiders as they only want to hurt, torture or kill you. The Government is to be feared and the only people one can trust is your fellow brothers and sisters. Father John, The Prophet, expects loyalty and obedience as he speaks directly from the Lord, but Moonbeam slowly starts to question her own beliefs as well as Father John. When a fire breaks out at the compound, Moonbeam’s life is about to change. Will Moonbeam be able to find herself or are the teachings of Father John ingrained to deeply within her?
I have always been fascinated with cults and I remember the news footage shown on television on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians which After the Fire is loosely based on. This story really gives a harrowing look inside of a cult and its teachings. While After the Fire is purely fiction, a lot of what is shown here rings true for a lot of members swayed into joining something they believe in whether it is for religious reasons or just the feeling as if they are apart of something meaningful. This story really gives a profound look inside of a cult and the damages it can and will cause. It is really sad to see children being exposed to this kind of life and sometimes it is all that they know especially being born in this kind of environment. Imagine your entire life being taught to believe one way and never seeing the outside world for what it truly is. It really is tragic.
Moonbeam’s story is told in before the fire and after the fire snippets. Here we learn what life was like for her living in the Lord’s Legion and just how far she was brainwashed and manipulated into believing a charismatic leader such as Father John. Living on the compound was not easy. There is child, mental and physical abuse that might make it hard for some readers to get through. But, Moonbeam tells her story the best she can while learning how to trust again. Moonbeam fights her inner demons and everything she has learned at the compound and along the way she slowly starts to find herself. There is an added element of suspense in Moonbeam’s story thats leads up the fire and it is done in such an honest and believable way.
Will Hill writes with such compassion and brutal honesty which never turns judgmental. It is refreshing to see an author write with such conviction and portray a fictional story that for the most part rings true to so many people who are currently inside something so disastrous as a cult and also for people who have escaped. Hill does not put down anyone for their beliefs and he writes from the heart and even with a little bit of understanding how someone can be sucked into a life that is so dangerous to the mind and body. Will Hill is an exceptional author that simply tells a story without inserting his own beliefs and narrative between the pages.
After the Fire is a story about survival. It is a moving, touching and emotional journey one teenager takes to finding redemption within herself. I found myself unable to put this story down and was completely captivated right from the start. This truly is a remarkable read and well deserving of five stars. What an outstanding portrayal of life inside of a cult. Hill has definitely acquired a new fan.