After by Savannah Jezowski is a character-driven story about a close-knit family’s struggle to stay together and survive in a dark world full of good and bad magical forces. The central character is Conrad, a troubled soul with a strong moral compass. He is the natural leader in a family of four boys and a useless step-father. Through a chain of events, Conrad becomes the protector of a young princess who is being hunted by a ruthless assassin. His youngest brother, Victor, is kidnapped and held in exchange for the princess. In an effort to save both Victor and the princess, Conrad and a colorful cast of characters set out on a journey that will challenge them all in more ways than one.
After is the first book in a series called The Neverway Chronicles. It sets the stage for stories to come by establishing the setting and characters. Savannah Jezowski’s strength as a writer is in painting vibrant pictures for her readers through her words. She has created a dark grimy world for her series to exist in that is easy to visualize thanks to her vivid descriptions. Her characters are fleshed out thoroughly with strengths, flaws, and idiosyncrasies. This book was classified as Christian fantasy/sci-fi and she did a good job of writing so that the story will appeal to both Christians and non-Christians. There are Christian concepts hidden within the themes of the book, but they are so well cloaked that it would be easy to miss them unless one was looking for them. I recommend After for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy with strong characters. There is magic at play and zombie-like creatures called Creepers, but all of the supernatural elements are downplayed. They are always around but never given the spotlight. In Ms. Jezowski’s world, the spotlight is reserved for her strong cast of characters.