Review - The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

 Review - The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James


What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, even the ability to possess the living. Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome her into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy.


No one writes thought-provoking YA sci-fi quite like Lauren James, but The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker is more horror than sci-fi. Yet she still pulls it off incredibly well!

Harriet Stoker's death, in the first couple of pages, makes for a shocking introduction to this superb novel. That's just the beginning of her story, as much as these things have beginnings, and it's what comes after her death that is most fascinating. Truly Harriet Stoker's afterlife is incredibly reckless!

I loved the cast of characters. She quickly meets a close-knit group of ghosts, practically a family really, and I thought they were all well fleshed out, with very believable personalities. Most of them are used as point of view characters as the story progresses, and it's fascinating watching them through each 0ther's eyes, seeing their individual beliefs, problems, fears and loves. There are queer romantic elements here that play out slowly and subtlety, and beautifully for it. There's a very realistic feel to it all, from crushes to fears, regardless of the fact that the characters in question have been dead centuries. Actually in terms of their personalities, the fact that they are dead doesn't really have much of an impact. They feel very alive, very flesh and blood characters. however dead they may be. 
As our central protagonist, Harriet herself is fascinating. Possibly one of the most conflicted main characters I've seen in a YA novel, you could easily write an academic essay on whether she's a hero or a villain. She is conflicted, shifting, has her own motivations that are not particularly around doing the right thing. Yet, as the novel progresses, we see why she's like this, what influences formed her and created her and it is brilliantly done. 

The mystery elements of this novel are also excellent. There are clues and hints throughout about deeper, darker goings on, some of which I picked up on, others I could clearly see after the truth came to light. It is engrossing and enthralling and I loved watching everything unfold, as the story built up to its dramatic conclusion. When all of the pieces finally snapped into place it was incredibly satisfying.

A deep, complex novel yet eminently readable,as clever as any of Lauren James' earlier books, and full of heart. I loved The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker!

🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James is out now, published by Walker Books.
I was given a review copy in return via Netgalley for an honest review.


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