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The Afterwards

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  147 ratings  ·  52 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 Children's Books (first published November 1st 2018)
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  147 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
WhatBookNext .com
December and Happiness are the best of friends. They laugh, play, imagine, and do almost everything together. But one day when Ember is waiting as usual for Ness to arrive so they can walk to school together, she begins to worry.

She soon finds out why Ness didn’t arrive. School without Ness is strange and quiet and sad. So when Ember’s Uncle Graham is waiting for her at the school gates after school, she is happy to go with him instead of walking home alone. The first thing she notices while she
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lois (thecarrotstories)
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A story about letting go and moving on~

This is a story about a girl, December, whose friend, Happiness, died from a fall from a swing in the park. She feels really sad about it and finds only emptiness inside when she goes to school. But when she finds a way into the afterworld, she is determined to save her friend and bring her back because that's what friends are for. Little did she know that there are dangers to be faced and lessons to learn that will finally bring her feeling of lost to a cl
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile, netgalley
I loved super sad books when I was a kid (my mom was apparently a little worried about me, but I just liked reading them because thankfully nothing sad happened in my life so it was my way of releasing those emotions, I think). Anyway, I would have loved this! But, for any child that has gone through the loss of a childhood friend, I do not think this is the book for them.

(view spoiler)
Suad Shamma
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, own
This story was one that really touched me unexpectedly.
I was moved by the friendship between Ember and Ness, and more so by Ness's sudden death.
My heart ached at Ember's confusion and sadness and her attempts at coping with her best friend's demise. Trying to understand how and why.

When the story moves on to the other world, the land of the dead, which is illustrated and described as grey, devoid of color or emotions, it gets weird. In a good way. I admired Ember's willingness to help her fri
Stephen Connor
December, or Ember, lives with her father, Harry, but without mum, who passed away. December and her father have a clear, loving relationship - it’s brilliant to see such a strong father in a children’s story.

Ember’s world is shaken further when her best friend, Ness (Happiness) dies after an accident. What happens next transcends the real world and what we assume is the afterlife, a monochromatic place where time stands still. Ember finds herself there after her wayward Uncle ‘swaps’ her for h
Laura Petrie
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to the #kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.--- As a reader and a teacher, I am consistently drawn to books that address the topic of loss. Unfortunately, it seems this is something that our young people are forced to deal with more often, and I like to have books available to all readers that can show them they are not alone. The Afterwards by A.F Harrold is one of those books. This story begins with a loss of a girl named Happiness that is ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
@kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network, publisher @bloomsburypublishing and author @a.f.harrold for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This middle grade novel takes on a subject that’s hard for young readers - death, and in particular the death of a friend. When you are young, it’s hard to fathom that someone your own age could die. And when Ember’s best friend has an accident, she finds herself between this world and the Afterworld. As Ember tries to ...more
Yasmin Marsden
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After the death of her mother when she was a young child, December finds her happiness in exactly that, her best friend Ness. However, things soon change after Ember finds out that Ness was lost to a grey world, found only by the help of a garden gate, alley ways and a mysterious cat...

After reading The Imaginary, I had high hopes for this book. I attended an evening with A.F and Emily Gravett, prior to reading the book, where Harrold read an extract. It’s easy to say that his writing style is e
Kendall Ball
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This book got rave professional reviews, but I found it to be lackluster, especially since it is similar in many ways to Coraline by Neil Gaiman who’s hard to beat. Emily Gravett’s illustrations are gorgeous though and I enjoyed the mix of prose and verse throughout the book. I felt like the dialogue didn’t add to the story much-there are lots of times people just say “oh.” The plot relies heavily on another realm, but the descriptions of it and what exactly it is are sparse. The characters are ...more
Vincent Ripley
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fact: Ember and Ness are best friends. 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. A powerful, poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving sto ...more
Robin Stevens
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heartbreakingly lovely story about dealing (and not dealing) with loss. Ember's friend, Happiness, dies, and she can't believe she's really gone - so she's not surprised to be pitched into a shadowy world where her friend still exists. But can Ember get Happiness back - and what will happen if she does? (10+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will
Brona's Books
The Afterwards is a new story by U.K. poet A. F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett, the well-known picture book illustrator. Like so many books for kids these days, the story explores friendship, death and loss. It is quite dark at times and some children may find the 'other world' that our young protagonist is able to visit quite creepy in much the same way that Neil Gaiman's Coraline's 'other mother' is creepy. But the ending is positive with a focus on living in the moment, honouring thos ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Wow this is a heart-wrenching book. I can see how it would be okay for older kids to read to learn about death and how life can still go on after something tragic has happened. But it is still a hard one to get through.

I think the illustrations really help the story a long and show the contrast of the two worlds.
Harrold is an amazing author and this is a great story to have out in the world, just not for the very young.
Bonnie Grover
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, student
This is a tender story about friendship and loss. It is a dark fantasy that would not be appropriate for younger readers. Ember and Ness are best friends, but when Ness dies, Ember finds her way into the Afterworld. Ember decides she cannot leave the Afterworld until she finds a way to bring Ness back. Emily Gravett has found a unique way to look at death and grieving. The illustrations are original and endearing.
Laura Gardner
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
What happens when one refuses to accept their loved one has died? December discovers maybe she doesn’t have to accept her best friend Happiness’s death in this poignant illustrated middle grade novel. Creepy and beautiful. The writing begs to be read aloud. I’m not sure the illustrations match the mood of the story for me and I don’t think this will have much of an audience in my middle school library, unfortunately. I do recommend for purchase in elementary libraries.
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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
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