Queer Representation: cis lesbian, cis bisexual
Warnings: implied child rape, abduction
In 1999, during a solar eclipse, Cassie Warren’s little sister is abducted and never heard from again. Now a journalist, Cassie returns to her hometown in 2015 to confront her past. Another girl goes missing, however, just before another solar eclipse, and the similarities are too much for Cassie to ignore. With the help of her ex girlfriend Cassie falls back down into childhood memories, determined to unravel the mystery of her sister’s disappearance in time to save both herself, and the latest victim.
AFTER THE ECLIPSE is an abduction thriller with some light horror elements and a number of well-worn tropes. Much like ALICE ISN’T DEAD in terms of pacing and thrill level, AFTER THE ECLIPSE also pairs tropes with a lesbian protagonist in a delightful splash of trope subversion.
The book reads smoothly and the pacing is excellent. Although the book employs all the elements found in ‘young girl kept in captivity by older male pervert’ tropes, the rape is merely alluded to and is never on page nor discussed. The horror elements are never overwhelming and blend well with the tension.
Cassie is a very sympathetic protagonist whose motivations are clear. Her romance with her ex girlfriend is three dimensional and just about perfect. The small number of POV sections with Olive (the kidnapped younger sister) are touching and hopeful and help round out the entire narrative.
The ‘who-done-it’ tropes are perfectly executed in the book, leading the reader into sureness of the abductor, just to pull the rug out at the two thirds mark. The plot twist is unexpected and perfect, and the ending both melancholy and rewarding.
The small details are particularly engaging, such as Olive’s mood ring and Cassie’s obsession with the ring’s origins and its sudden appearance on the new victim. Though the plot and structure of the book are familiar, the small elements and inclusion of a lesbian protagonist, along with the outstanding pacing and tension, make the book an unforgettable read.