Seventeen year old Moonbeam has spent most of her life in the compound of the Lord’s Legion, until the government come to take her away, the very people she has been taught are servants of the serpent. Now in the clutches of the enemy, Moonbeam must face the events leading up to the raid and decide who to trust.

After the Fire is based on the Waco Siege and the Branch Davidians cult, however Will Hill created a new organisation and characters in order to remain respectful to the survivors. Father John takes wives according to who the Lord chooses and the other men must vow to a life of celibacy. Before him there had been a much more benevolent leader, who let them leave the compound in order to spread the word. They were allowed to read and watch TV before the purge.

The story is told in chapters alternating between Before and After. After is when Moonbeam is being held in a government facility, being interviewed by a psychiatrist and an FBI agent, as well as her interactions with the other children who were freed. They have traded one prison for another, but it’s not like they can just be released into the world.

In the Before chapters, she tells of life in the compound, how her mother was banished and her growing disillusionment at the cause. The Centurions are appointed by Father John to serve him and carry out punishments, some of which could be considered torture, but the children know this as justice and the will of the Lord. They are always men and they abuse their power nearly as much as the prophet.

Because nothing is ever only good and nothing is ever only bad. Everything is somewhere in the middle.

I liked that it looked at a cult from the perspective of someone who had been freed. Moonbeam and her “siblings” need to be deprogrammed after a life of what is essentially domestic abuse. Father John controlled them through fear. He claims to be a prophet, that the Lord speaks through him, meaning he can get away with anything he likes. To question him, is to question the Lord.

I would have liked it to explore the reason why people join cults a bit more but, being told from Moonbeam’s point of view, it was never her choice. Her mother took her there as a child, and it turns out it was really her deceased father’s choice. Once assimilated into the cult, it is easy to see how people were made to stay compliant.

Listening Notes

I feel that if you want an audiobook narrated in a Texan accent, you get someone from Texas to read it. The accent just sounded fake to me throughout and it hadn’t the added annoyance of the narrator trying to sound young. Maybe should would have been whiny and gasping, but I didn’t like the narration. I think she used her natural accent for Dr Hernandez as I could hear it in Moonbeam’s voice now and then, but the doctor was meant to be a man and the voice was much more feminine than the girl.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 32. A book from a celebrity book club

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Book Source: Purchased