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The Afterward by E.K. Johnston; Narrated by Lisa Flanagan, Meera Simhan, and Adenrele Ojo
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
A year after they found the godsgem and defeated the evil old god, the knights have learned that their resulting fame and fortune hasn’t solved their problems. Thief Olsa Rhetsdaughter is still a thief, and now that she’s popular, she’s having a much harder time sneaking around. Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart still doesn’t have enough money to pay her debts and so must wed, despite her feelings toward a certain fellow-quester.
Told from a unique perspective of flashbacks from the quest and the current problems encountered by the knights, The Afterward takes all the traditional adventure tropes and flips them around. All the knights are female, at least two of them are lesbians, and their adventures still haven’t ended.
Also unique, the story is told from multiple points of view. When flashbacks to the quest occur, Olsa and Kalanthe tell their stories from first-person points of view, read by Adenrele Ojo and Meera Simhan respectively. When overall narration, including the current story, is being provided, reader Lisa Flanagan narrates with a third person limited point of view. In this way, listeners experience firsthand the triumphs and agonies of the initial quest and the burgeoning love between the two main characters. Both Ojo and Simhan are deft readers, handling each girl’s growth in confidence and desires towards one another with voice modulations that range from high and excited to low and frustrated.
However, in the after part of The Afterward, the two characters are no longer often in the same space or motivated by the same agenda, so narrator Lisa Flanagan recounts what both are doing with a bit more world-weariness. Each girl has become a bit jaded after the initial excitement of the completed quest and they again must confront the reality of their problems, and so we hear into each mind from a more distinct, third-person, perspective. Flanagan, as a narrator, is able to separate each girl’s perspective with ease, and listeners always have a sense of which knight’s story is currently being detailed.
For fan of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology for the unique cast of characters, Kristin Cashore’s Graceling for epic female characters, and Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun for multiple perspectives and jumps in time, The Afterward is an excellent new look at what really happens after knights come back from their quests.
–Sarah Wright & Danielle Jones