The last person to die each year becomes a reaper, helping guide souls to Charon so they can move on. This year, that person is Ash Persaud but she’s not ready to let go. She just wants to see the girl she loves again, despite all the reasons she should stay away.

Even when we’re forty and all of this feels so very far away. I hope we remember that inside, we will always be the people we are tonight.

Ash is introduced as a reaper in the first chapter, so although we don’t learn about her death until much later, it’s not a spoiler! After learning of Ash’s current status, Afterlove goes back in time to tell the story of how Ash met Poppy, the first real girlfriend she’s had.

You might be wondering where the reaper action is, but the love story is important to establish the reason Ash is desperate to see her again. Poppy was something special, someone different to the other girls who used her as a trial. While Ash is comfortable with her sexuality, she isn’t entirely out with her Guyanese family. She thinks her mum knows but they’ve never had a real chat and she’s worried how her dad will feel.

The second half of the book is about Ash coming to terms with her death, her new role as a reaper and the consequences of breaking the rules. Plus, she gets awesome new reaper friends, who really do want to look out for her even if she gets a frosty reception at first. People deal with being dead in different ways, they themselves are mourning their own lost lives.

We refer to you as grim reapers, but you’re actually more like collectors. All you have to do is escort them down to the beach where someone will be waiting to take them to the other side.

“The other side of what?”

“Hove,” Esen says.

I loved the Brighton setting too, I could picture Ash and Poppy on the beach and exploring the streets looking for interesting shops.

20 Books of Summer #19

Goodreads | Amazon* | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery | Blackwell’s* | Bookshop.org*

*indicates an affiliate link