After Life - Daniel Ionson
Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. I'm going to quote WoW's Illidan Stormrage here by saying you are NOT prepared. And I need to make sure you still won't be after reading this review. Actually, if you have any possible plans to read this book, you probably shouldn't even read the synopsis of it. Trust me, it will be totally worth it to go into it blind, with the exception of knowing it falls into the Dark Age Fantasy category. Sorta.

Did you skip the synopsis? If so, it means you're going to read this book (*whispers* there's a giveaway for it going on here, so you totally can by signing up).

After Life starts off in a medieval fantasy kind of setting. There are kings, warriors, farmers, and magic! I guess if you want something to compare it to, I'll pick a popular tag and say Game of Thrones. Except, this is nothing like Game of Thrones.

The world building is su-fucking-perb (I honestly hope Perb isn't an existing first name [maybe a Swedish Per B., though, but I'm digressing horribly now]). I actually couldn't read this before going to bed because the scenery was depicted so vividly that I was bound to having some bad nightmares about it.

The characters initially had a bit of a rough startup but, in the end, they were exactly what Fantasy characters are supposed to be, except way more brutal and raw. I think I loved Breoch the most because he's a bit of a rebel when it comes to behaving the way he's supposed to behave.

Now, I will keep this review fairly short because I really don't want to risk giving away any spoilers. I will tell you this: it's dark, it's heartbreaking and utterly scary at times. There are a few plot twists that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I already used this one in one of my Goodreads' statuses, but it sums it up the feeling perfectly:

dorothy gasp.gif
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...

This was done brilliantly and gives you a high WTF-state of mind for quite a while (I'm still pondering over certain things as I'm typing this). Everything will be explained in the end, though. No loose threads or crappy cliffhangers.

The writing was great, the grammar was good, and thank the gods, there were no typos! You can definitely see that this was professionally edited. There were some deeper philosophical thoughts behind this story as well, which isn't strange regarding the fact that the author is a philosopher as well. A few of the sentences I highlighted:

"All evil men were once innocent babes, once lovable children. Men make choices, some consistently bad. But those who choose the worst kinds of evil were typically guided into it."

"It is hard to explain," her daughter answered gently. "We are within your soul. My soul is residing in yours for a time, in the same way that I reside in your body. I am dwelling within you, and so may communicate with you while we yet live."

(the last one being said by an unborn child)

The reason why it's not getting the full 5 brownies on my blog is that this book involves a lot of rape. Thankfully, it's not depicted in a detailed kind of way, but still, it was just a bit too much for me to take. I do understand the purpose of it being in there, though. I mean, what kind of überevil beings would make an exception for women and treat them with respect? They have an evil reputation to uphold!

Another minor point of critique is that there were so many names in the first part of the book, that I sometimes lost track of who was who again, partly also due to those characters largely feeling like one and the same person. Later on in the story, this is totally not an issue anymore. It's why After Life will get 5 stars from me on Goodreads and retailer sites. This is truly a book I want to reread again and pester people with when it comes to recommending it. Starting now: READ THIS BOOK! Except when you're under 18 and or don't have a strong stomach cause I'm telling ya, it can get pretty gross and intense...

A big thank you to Daniel Ionson for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review!