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Book Review: Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

Publication Date: July 22nd 2021


Car headlights.The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.

But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?
This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.

But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive …


My thoughts & feelings …

I’ve been wanting to read this book since even before it’s release but kept putting it off and putting it off. At first I thought it was because I’m an idiot but turns out I was subconsciously trying to save myself from the emotional pain.

Going into this I had a vague idea of the plot: grim reapers and lesbians. For the most part that’s exactly what it is as it follows sixteen year old Ash who is the last person to die on New Years Eve and becomes a Grim Reaper, leaving behind her first love Poppy who she’s desperate to get back to.

With this book it’s not one concrete moment that’s sad, rather it’s more nuanced, like a slowburn of sadness. I love a good bit of foreshadowing and this book is packed with it. The first half of the book we follow Ash as she meets and falls in love with Poppy and they make plans but we know, as the reader, that they’re going be torn apart and it’s heartbreaking.

The entire lead up to Ash’s death was almost bitter sweet and my eyes were watering. I think the author did a really good job at bringing out that emotion and making me care about the characters and romance so much in just 40% of the way through the book.

I personally fell in love with Poppy, the love interest, when she pulled the whole “I didn’t know what your favourite flower was so I got you one of each”. That is romance my friends.

I also think this book did such a good job at capturing the queer experience. We see Ash struggling with her love life, her only previous romances being very hush-hush. Also er being insecure in her relationship with Poppy at first because of those passed experiences, and because it can be hard for two girls to pick up on the signals because “is this romantic affection or just affection affection?” It addressed those challenges but still gave the girls their rom-com worthy romance.

Another element of this book I really enjoyed on just a personal level was that it’s set in the UK. I just love reading a book that references Eastenders. Ash’s family are really just your average UK family and that was really felt, but in the same breath their culture was just as represented.

Overall I loved this book just as much I thought I was going to. Sure I signed up for a gay grim reaper romance and got a nuanced and emotional but still somehow hopeful story. I was full on enthralled by this book and I’d definitely recommend it.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Afterlove by Tanya Byrne”

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