Savannah Jezowski’s After: Neverway Chronicles Volume 1 tells the dark story of Conrad Ellis the Third or Eli, a spook, whose nightly job is not only to escort notable visitors in and out of the ancient city of Pandorum but also to herd creepers, the restless dead, to beyond the city’s boundaries called Neverway. Pandorum itself is a city of levels accessible only through guarded gates. Ruling with an iron hand, the emperor resides in the upper city, the citadel, forbidden to anyone not carrying a “marker”, the nearly unobtainable pass. Along with his half-brother, Ivan, Eli works diligently to support his family while keeping a secret that threatens his very life. Then, one night, he stumbles upon the first victim of a murderer whose bloody deeds pull Eli into a mystery of dangerous intrigue leading to the forbidden citadel.
Savannah Jezowski’s After is a deliciously creepy book, written from the first-person point of view of Eli, the main character. Some of its popular elements include the zombie-like dead, mainly to be pitied, who have succumbed to an incurable, endemic plague that strikes without warning but is an accepted part of daily life. While this is a mix of fantasy, science fiction, dystopia, and a dash of Christian cautionary tale, the book’s characters would be right at home on the pages of Charles Dickens’ works, and that is one of its chief appeals. Jezowski’s writing style is straightforward and very readable, and she is never guilty of overwhelming us with background information. So, for an entertaining and thoughtful read, After comes highly recommended!