REVIEW | The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker | Lauren James

I haven’t decided what the moral of my story is yet. The lesson that needs sharing. What here is worth remembering a millennium from now, if we survive that long? Worth passing onto the generations of ghosts that come after us?

I nearly picked this up for the pretty cover, then realised that I was supposed to only be reading the books I already owned. And then someone told me that it was darker than they expected, and I insta-ordered it. I’m a sucker for dark books, and this has an achillean couple and a pansexual MC so obviously I had to have it immediately.

Rating: 4.5 stars!

Trigger Warnings: ghosts, death, grief, murder, abuse.

About the book:

What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a group of ghosts, each with a special power.

Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome Harriet into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival after decades alone. 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.

What did I think?

The longer I think about this book, the more obsessed with it I get. This is a difficult one to choose to review (and yet here I am, like a fool, picking it for review) because there’s so much of it that I absolutely refuse to give away, because my favourite thing about this book was the reading experience. The whole way through I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next, and it meant that I was so on edge that I couldn’t, for a second, put it down. I read it in one marathon sitting. The tone in this book is flawless. The way that it got progressively darker and more unnerving was so powerful and I didn’t anticipate a single one of the twists before they hit me like a train.

I loved the characters deeply (okay, maybe not all the time) and Harriet in particular was my absolute favourite kind of protagonist. Why? Because at points I hated her. Reckless is an understatement. The destructive streak she goes through is part of what makes her so goddamn interesting to read about. I remember at one point putting the book down just so I could explain to Tal exactly why Harriet is a monster. But, equally, I felt for her. I could see why she did half the things she did, and in moments felt myself rooting for her despite the way she was behaving. My kingdom for more awful, awful main characters. Harriet wasn’t the only character I loved in this story (I don’t think I was supposed to love Harriet, whoops). We have a cute as hell found family in the main ghost cast, including a hopeless gay with a clueless love interest and a pair of best friends that I would literally die and disintegrate for. Having these Good Guy characters made for a steep contrast with Harriet’s behaviour, and meant that I found myself on the edge of my seat hoping that they were going to make it through the book in one piece.

I haven’t read any Lauren James before, but after devouring this book in one sitting, I know I’m going to pick up more of her reads. How could I not, when she so easily managed to turn everything I knew upside down over and over? I picked this up because someone told me it was dark and even so I was shocked by just how dark it got because I still underestimated it.


Goodreads | Hive | Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository
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Release Date: 3rd September 2020


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