Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Afterwards” as Want to Read:
The Afterwards
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Afterwards

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  387 ratings  ·  122 reviews
From the acclaimed team behind The Imaginary comes another powerful, poignant, and darkly fantastical story about friendship, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl.

Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can't imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published November 1st 2018)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Afterwards, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Afterwards

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  387 ratings  ·  122 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Afterwards
C.G. Drews
w o w children's books are depressing these days.

no but seriously this was extraordinarily sad. It's about a little girl named December (who is hereafter referred to by a ton of nicknames to confuse us all) whose best friend (Happiness) dies and then December finds her way into the afterlife (literally getting lured there by a mega creepy uncle) to get her back. See?? this is so so sad. I guess it's intended for kids who've lost someone, but it was really chilling when we had half-dead dogs runn
Colleen Fauchelle
This is a very grim story, not a book to give a child if they lose their friend'
December and happiness are best friends and they live next door to each other. But one sad day one of them dies from a accident, the whole school is very sad by the passing of their school mate, even more so is the girl who's bestfriend died, she feels lost and alone. One day after school the uncle comes to take the girl home to his place. He has a special key and a map and they go out the back gate and keep turning
Sophie Crane
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-in-h-f
Gosh! This Book Hit Me & Hit Me Hard, Highly Recommended! ...more
Review to come.

All in all this was not what I had hoped for from this duo who delivered one of my most favourite of MG books.

It felt contrived and forced. It was a little too dark in places, and doesn't really deliver the message it seems the creators were going for. In theory this would be a good book to help kids work through loss, but in practice not so much.

Also, why was there no comeuppance for the guy who wanted to trade the life of his niece in order to bring his dog back to land of th
December lives at home with her caring father, Harry. There's just the two of them since mum died many years ago and although dad has a partner who cares deeply for 'Ember', December's time, love and thoughts are always with her best friend, Happiness who loves the same things she does and is in the same class as her.
More of an 'equal' than a sequel to The Imaginary, this remains a dark and haunting world but this, for me, is a different story. Yes, there is a sense of creepiness about the plot
Brooklyn Tayla
I received a finished copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
This is such a moving and more often than not, a heartbreaking read! At its core, The Afterwards is a story about friendship and the extent one would go to save one’s best friend, as Ember does when she learns Ness tragically passes away during a terrible accident.
It’s also a story of acceptance too, and coming to terms with something tragic. In that sense, I definitely think th
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't know of any other children's author out there who is willing to tackle these sensitive subjects and do it with so much care. Coupled with some more stunning illustrations from Emily Gravett this is one of the most tender books you'll ever have the pleasure to read. The book deals with a friendship so strong that even after death there is still a bond between the girls. From the write-up you know that one of them is going to die, but you aren't prepared with how sudden it was, you then ge ...more
Alex  Baugh
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
December, nicknamed Ember, and Happiness, called Ness, live next door to each other and have been best friends for three years now. They did everything together, walking to and from school, playing in the schoolyard, and having lots of laughs and fun with each other. So Ember is pretty surprised one day when she calls for Ness to walk to school and no one answers the door.

At school, it's announced that one of the students has died after an accident, and to Ember's surprise and distress it turns
Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)
DNF at 34%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

The Afterwards was super disturbing, and definitely not a book I want my children to read. First of all, their names were a little confusing (December and Happiness/Ember and Ness), but that was easy to overlook. I can appreciate when an author tries to be unique and original with words. However, I
Ms. B
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, 2019
An interesting look at the afterlife, where do you go after you die? What if you could bring your best friend back to the land of the living? That's what Ember tries to do when her friend Ness dies at the start of this story. Haunting and sad. Some will lile this look at the afterlife and some will find it too dark for their tastes.
Katie Light
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katy Noyes
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantasy, grief and family - an unusual, affecting children's story about death.

Not an easy topic for young readers, the taboo of death being one that adults usually try to shield children from as much as they can. But here the protagonist not only has to face death but to make decisions that no child normally would. It is a mature work.

Ember and Ness, best friends, are separated suddenly, Ember left with the void as Ness tragically dies. Herself part of a family mourning a mother, she struggles
Cheriee Weichel
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
December (Ember) and Happiness (Ness) are best friends who live next door to one another. When Ness, dies, Ember is empty and struggles to cope. Then Betty, her nefarious uncle's dog, is killed in a car accident. He kidnaps Ember and takes her to The Afterwards where he trades her for Betty. While wandering in this parallel world, Ember finds a shadowy Ness. Then a Mrs Todd decides this trade isn't right and returns Ember to the real world. Once home Ember becomes determined to rescue Ness, no m ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
Actual rating : 3.75/ 5 star

I liked the characters, especially December and Harry. I really adore their bonding as father-daughter. The story line has great pacing and development. I loved how the author describes December and Happiness' friendship. I think we would all be like December if we were ever to lose our best friend.

However, the 'other world' for the dead could be more solid, in my opinion.

Overall, it was heartfelt and beautifully written.

For more detailed review: https://jessicabook
Charlotte Jones
I read A.F. Harrold's The Imaginary back in 2014 and enjoyed it so I thought I'd pick up another children's book from this author. The Afterwards brings together the same author/illustrator combination which works really well in terms of storytelling. 

This book had darker elements that reminded me of Neil Gaiman's children's fiction but was quite an emotional read. It is a story about life and death, remembering and letting go.

The only thing I didn't enjoy was the repetitive nature of the story
Amy Roebuck
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Such mixed feelings about this one. It's juvenile fiction (so for kids, maybe middle grades). It's one person's take on what happens after we die, from the p.o.v. of a young girl who has no real recollection of her mother, and then loses her best school chum in a playground accident.
There's apparent judgment here about whose life is worth more, about creepy uncles and about dogs that are loved, unwisely and too well, to fracture a quotation.
A worthwhile topic, but I hope that parents and teache
Ana Marlatt
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well, this was interesting, intense, and very sad. It was unsettling at times.
Some things I downright didn’t like, specially the idea of death being when you are forgotten and turn to dust. The Afterwards is sad and depressing, and I think if I had read this as a child, I would feel anxious. What I liked most were the illustrations and different ways to present text. But I am not a fan of this sad story... I like books that leave me thinking and wondering and hopeful. This one left me unsettled
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks for the tears Mr. Harrold, I really appreciate it
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
2 for the story but an extra star for the illustrations
Erin Milham
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would recommend this be read by pretty much everyone. It's a really quick read so great for boosting your Goodreads challenge and it also deals with some pretty heavy topics.
Bethany Parker
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Reminded me of Coraline , but without the same dedication to its genre. It was hard to finish, and finishing left me with no sense of resolve. Not recommended.
Kathryn Miller
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story which is sad without ever being maudlin and hopeful without being dishonest. But I would recommend it for the intended age-group only with a few caveats. Children read in such a different way to adults I think it's possible some would be left overwhelmed or scared about the topics, depending on their particular nature.

I'm going to pass the book onto a friend for her kids but with a word of warning that she might want to read it first herself to gauge whether this is one she wan
Sarah Davis
It’s hard to know how to rate this.

It’s obviously written with aching, searing emotion and is a beautiful story about grief. I also lost a friend close to me at the age of these characters, and also had a near-death experience in a car accident at the same age, and this novel sorts through those conflicting, complicated feelings so well. There were some wonderful moments, ideas, and writing, and I loved the formatting and illustration.

However, I felt like it all didn’t quite come together. I f
The Book Squirrel
This is a story about December, a girl whose best friend, Ness, dies. When she finds a way into the "afterworld", she hatches a plan to bring Ness back into the real world.

Overall, this book didn't reach more than a "it was ok" rating for me. December is kind of an idiot to think she can go wandering around and messing with the afterlife with no consequences. In this part of the afterlife, things (animals, people) who die stay around while they "forget" themselves. When they've been dead long en
A Severs
Beautifully and poetically written; perfectly illustrated. I really wanted to love it but I think it would be quite confusing for children who are trying to come to terms with death, even though the overall message probably is a helpful one. I'm not disappointed, and I'm glad I read it, but I would have to be very careful about who I recommended it to.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
This is a very moving story. I read this book to my Year 4 class who got really interested in the story, asked lots of questions and wanted to know more about the two main characters Ember and Ness. This story talks about issues around death, friendship and looks at the main feelings of the main characters. At times the book can be quite sad but very moving and eye opening.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to this book because of the illustrations - I'm such a fan of Emily Gravett's picture books that I wanted to read this if only for the illustrations!

And I wasn't wrong to - they are both very like some of her picture book work in some ways and much more detailed and with an older feel in others, which is as it should be for an older children's book.

Her use of both incredibly detailed pencil sketches and bright colour images not only mirrored and matched the storyline but really enhan
Kate Mageau
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Afterwards, by A.F. Harrold, is a wonderfully creative story about how a 10-year-old might deal with grief. The main character, December, affectionately known as ’Ember, lives with her widowed father and next door to her best friend, Happiness (affectionally known as ’Ness). Within the first few chapters, Ness dies.

Ember was very young when her mother died, so this is her first experience actually dealing with grief. Her father comforted her and stayed with her while she took a day off scho
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing

There's nothing more to say about it. It is what it is. It is what will always be. Ember and Ness.
Then Ness dies. It is sudden and unexpected and leaves Ember completely empty. How can this be?
When Ember finds a way into the Afterworld, she determines to bring Ness back. Because that's what friends do isn't it? They rescue each other. They help. They never give up. Ember and Ness. That don't change.

All Ember (December) has in her life is her dad Harry and Ness (Happiness) her best friend. ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
@kidlitexchange #partner - Thank you #kidlitexchange and @bloomsburypublishing for the Advance Reader Copy of @a.f.harrold ‘s THE AFTERWARDS. Opinions are my own.
December “Ember” and Happiness “Ness” are the best of friends until Ness dies on a freak playground accident. 📚
Ember’s loving widowed Dad leaves her with eccentric Uncle Graham the day afterward, who takes her to a strange black-and-white parallel universe behind his garden, where Ness is lonely, sad, and confused. But Graham isn’t l
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Accidental Trouble Magnet (Planet Omar, #1)
  • High-rise Mystery
  • The Star Outside my Window
  • Operatic
  • A Kind of Spark
  • The Longest Night of Charlie Noon
  • The Middler
  • Catherine's War
  • No Ballet Shoes in Syria
  • The Nothing to See Here Hotel
  • The Wild Way Home
  • The Way Past Winter
  • Check Mates
  • Malamander (The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea, #1)
  • Orphans of the Tide
  • A Sprinkle of Sorcery (A Pinch of Magic, #2)
  • Rymlingarna
  • One-Third Nerd
See similar books…
A.F. Harrold is an English poet. He writes and performs for adults and children, in cabaret and in schools, in bars and in basements, in fields and indoors. He was Glastonbury Festival Website's Poet-In-Residence in 2008, and Poet-In-Residence at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2010. He won the Cheltenham All Stars Slam Championship in 2007 and has had his work on BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC7. ...more

Related Articles

Children's books featuring bold and brave girls are both becoming easier for parents to find, and also cover a large range of...
129 likes · 46 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“No reason. They (some things) just are, and that's all there is to it. Some things you just have to accept and move on from.” 0 likes
More quotes…