Whereafter by New England author Terri Bruce is a treat for paranormal fiction readers and lovers of afterlife mythologies.
The newest book in the Afterlife series, Whereafter follows Hereafter and Thereafter (Links go to my reviews) but because each book has its own set of journeys, you can jump into reading the books at any point.
I first connected with author Terri Bruce on Twitter and then got hooked on her series of paranormal fantasy books about smart-ass Irene Dunphy — a textbook case of arrested development at age 30 — and her adventures in the afterlife, first with a fellow seeker named Jonah, a 14-year-old loner, and then with a 19th-century American cowboy and a 12th-century Spanish knight.
For me, Irene’s banter and bravado are the best part of the books. On her extended journey — as her cockiness deepens into true bravery — Irene is gradually learning and growing, and she becomes more likeable as a person as the story moves forward. But her spirited streak remains as she continues to parry and thrust verbally (and physically, when necessary) with and alongside Andras, the knight she is traveling with on this portion of her journey through the realms of the afterlife.
Whereafter also picks up the story of Jonah, now age 17, who didn’t have a large role to play in Thereafter (Book #2,) and who was Irene’s best bantering match in Hereafter (Book #1.) Since then, in his continued quest to find and help Irene, Jonah has learned even more about the afterlife than he knew before — already an awful lot — but he has a lot to learn about living his own life. Cara, a new acquaintance his own age who does a bit of dabbling in the psychic realm herself, is determined to help him in both areas, despite her own lingering doubts about the wisdom of looking for Irene.
A genre-blending paranormal fantasy set mostly in mythical and fantastical worlds, Whereafter also has a New England flavor, as Irene and Jonah’s stomping grounds in life were/are Salem, Massachusetts (home of the witches) and Boston (home of Madame Majicka’s Shop of Mysteries.)
“‘I’m from New England. We don’t consider weather weird until it’s hailing, snowing, and lightning all at the same time.’
Andras’s eyes narrowed into a laser-hot glare; apparently this was no time for jokes. Irene sighed. ‘Look, it’s all strange and unnatural, okay? It’s been strange and unnatural from the beginning, before I even left the land of the living. I’m talking to a guy from 1195, for cryin’ out loud. Today, alone, I’ve been chased by ghost-eating shadows, found myself in the mythical land of Tartarus, and a disgruntled ex-slave attempted to put a curse on me. I’m sorry, where exactly in the grand scheme of things does a freak snowstorm fit on the weird-shit-o-meter?’ She patted his arm, half comforting, half dismissive. ‘Come on, buck up, will you? You’ve faced Hungry Ghosts and invading armies without so much as batting an eye. This is a million times easier.’
The furrow between Andras’s eyebrows deepened, but at the same time, one corner of his mouth lifted slightly. ‘Perhaps,’ he said softly, ‘we should visit my time. I would dearly love to see you face down an army of Moors. In all honesty, I am not sure which side I should pity.'”
— from Whereafter by Terri Bruce