The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker – Lauren James

Standard

Walker Books

September 2020

ISBN: 9781406391121

RRP: $14.99

Whatever it is you might expect to happen after your death it is not likely to match Lauren James’ latest supernatural thriller. Harriet Stoker has been raised strictly, protected and, truth be told, controlled by her grandmother since both her parents died of an unexplained food poisoning episode.

Now Harriet’s at university and enjoying her first taste of relative freedom. In the pursuit of exceptional images for her photography assignment, Harriet has broken into the derelict building that was Mulcture Hall. The long-abandoned building was once filled with the bustle of uni students until a mysterious event caused the simultaneous deaths of dozens of them.

As soon as Harriet, feeling daring and intrepid, forces her way into the grim ruins of the former boarding house she begins her search for her interesting shots. Working her way up the dark staircase she suddenly and shockingly catches her foot and falls – into the void created by five stories of nothingness.

So Harriet dies on the mossy concrete floor of an old student hall with a huge hole in the back of her head…and ‘wakes’ up to find herself surrounded by other students. There is just one problem. These other students are all dead as well. They are the ghosts of those who died in the mysterious event years earlier. Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah are just a few of the ghosts of Mulcture Hall but they are the ones who try their best to welcome Harriet and help her find her way in the confusion of her new afterlife. Her disbelief quickly turns to rage and when she discovers that each ghost has a special power, she is determined to unleash her own no matter the cost to return to the life left behind. The chaos Harriet creates is nothing compared to that in store when much older entities and powers than hers are set free.

Narrated in turn by each of the main ghostly characters as well as an unknown voice whose identity is shrouded until the very end this is both gripping and intense. Each of the characters is dealing with unresolved issues, some from their living days and some acquired since and their long friendship becomes severely tested as they bear the impact of Harriet’s heedless actions.

This masterful paranormal narrative will hold readers spellbound as the intricate plot unravels exploring themes of love, loyalty, courage, sexuality, lust for power, revenge, deceit, greed and self-sacrifice.

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