After the Darkness by Honey Brown

Penguin Australia

January 25, 2012

256 pages

4/5 Stars

After the Darkness is a compelling psychologically thriller set predominantly after a traumatic experience whereby Bruce and Trudy Harrison find themselves facing the unbearable task of trying to move on from a brutal attack in which they barely escaped alive from.

Trudy and Bruce Harrison are slowly making their way home after a quick get away when fate steps in and has other plans. Having survived the brutal attack by a man named simply as Reuben in what is meant to be an art gallery, the pair return home visibly shaken and worse for wear believing that the worst is over. After all what is a few cuts and bruises and torn off nails compared to almost certainly a horrendous death at the hands at unyielding mad man? Believing themselves lucky to be alive, the pair make a pact to not tell anyone about what transpired; not their three teenaged kids, their parents, nor the police. Especially not the police. However, back in suburbia fate has other plans for them as shame and fear from what they had experienced, seen and done quickly casts doubts upon their decisions and relationships as they constantly find themselves ill equipped to face the constant pressures of family, work commitments and even the presence of each other.

Although a thriller, majority of this novel is set in the aftermath of the horrific experience that ultimately changes the lives of Bruce and Trudy Harrison. While it is constantly acknowledge that the experience was harrowing and they were lucky to be alive, just trying to survive and live a normal life post event proves to be the most difficult task at all. Especially when paranoia and self-doubt raises its ugly head causing the pair to make irrevocable decisions that will forever haunt their lives. Honey Brown’s writing is strengthened by the inclusion of this aftermath and it is this primal focus of the aftermath that really sets this story apart from others within the same genre, ultimately putting the novel somewhat ahead of similar narratives in terms of delivery and depth while challenging the notion of happily ever after. After all who can fulfil the requirements of a lifetime of happily ever afters if the past will not leave them alone?

The focus of the narrative has been well thought out, and is cunning in its creativeness and the way it plays out. Nothing is ever as it seems, and yet based on events that you know HAVE transpired you can’t help but align yourselves with the struggling Harrison clan. Brown’s prose sets the reader up to ask the questions of what would you do in a similar situation? Could you be as strong, or ill-informed as the Harrison’s are depending on your standpoint? Would you be able to see the folly of your ways to prevent yourselves from making similar mistakes or would you be helpless in the downward spiral your life was unexpectedly taking? Could you admit your short-comings and failings, or are you doomed to be trapped by them?

Overall this narrative was chilling, confronting and devastating on all fronts. The writing was effortless and Brown has proven herself a master of the art of suspense, with an unfailing eye to the psychological concepts of boundaries and what it means if we were to ever cross those self imposed black and white lines.

You know the saying ‘it was like a car crash that you just couldn’t look away from,’ this narrative is like that – for all the right reasons. The writing is superb, the actions harrowing, the effect devastating. A must read for any thriller fan.

This review originally appeared on Goodreads on January 2,2013 and can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/426160260

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