Aftermath by Ann McMan is the follow-up to her debut novel, Jericho. It manages to take all of Jericho’s strengths and build on them, leaving the reader with a story that is often hilarious, occasionally heartrending, and entirely satisfying.
If you haven’t read Jericho, you should. However, it’s not crucial because Aftermath has a Foreword with a synopsis of Jericho and a list of characters, delivered by the deliciously bitchy David Jenkins, Maddie’s best friend.
Maddie and Syd are settled into their life on Maddie’s farm, raising their foster son Henry while his father is deployed in the Middle East. Maddie is still the town doctor, Syd is teaching at the high school, and they’ve built a solid relationship with Maddie’s mother, Celine. Everything changes in the sleepy mountain town, however, when a storm blows in with huge consequences.
The characters are one of the greatest strengths of the books set in Jericho. As quirky as many of them are, it would have been easy to turn them into walking punchlines, and Ann McMan never does that. Whether it’s Maddie and her weakness for terrible food despite being a doctor, Roma Jean’s earnest clumsiness whenever she’s around one of her crushes, or Celine’s mama bear that comes out when Maddie’s reputation is threatened (seriously, do NOT cross Celine, no matter how much money you have), every character in Aftermath is real and vital. Also, as a mother and a reader, I appreciate that Henry actually sounds like a real, human child, and not an impossibly awful plot moppet that’s only there to drive the story forward.
The Writing Style
Aftermath might take place after the events of Jericho, but it’s so much more than a mere sequel. While Jericho was a romance, and a wonderful one at that, Aftermath reads more like general fiction. Maddie and Syd are still the cornerstone, but with their relationship well established, Aftermath is instead a love letter to small town life. The structure, pacing, and plotting have dramatically improved from what we saw in Jericho, but without sacrificing any of the heart and humour that makes it a favourite of many a lesbian fiction reader. Shifting genres within a series can be a risky move, but in this case, it paid off in spades.
Christine Williams is back as narrator, and again, the narration is excellent. I truly can’t imagine anyone else bringing these words to life in the same way.
Everything. Seriously, I love this book. How did I only start reading Ann McMan’s books this year?
I want, like, 20 more books in this series in my Audible app right now and I want them all narrated by Christine Williams. Is that really too much to ask?
Ann McMan did it again with Aftermath, putting out another book that’s an instant favourite. Do yourself a favour and pick up the audio book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Excerpt from Aftermath by Ann McMan
She got an idea. She walked across the kitchen and called up the back stairs. “Hurry up, Henry! If we leave now, we can stop at Aunt Bea’s and get a biscuit.”
After a moment, she heard the sound of his little feet pounding down the big center hallway. He appeared at the top of the stairs with Pete in tow.
“We’re not supposed to go there,”he said. He started down the stairs.
“Use the handrail, buddy,” Maddie reminded him. “And who says we’re not supposed to go to Aunt Bea’s?”
Maddie was confused. “When did Syd tell you that?”
Henry was now on the bottom step. He looked up at her. “This morning. She said you’d wanna stop there if you had to take me to school again.”
Maddie rolled her eyes. Clearly, this was a damn conspiracy.
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781934452950
- Publisher: Bedazzled Ink
- Audio Book Publisher: Audible Studios
Ann McMan Online
Note: I received a free review copy of this book for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.