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Aftermath    by Kelley Armstrong order for
by Kelley Armstrong
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As Aftermath opens, Skye Gilchrist is forced (by family circumstances) to move back to her home town of Riverside three years after her beloved, caring, thoughtful brother Luka died in a school shooting. It was, and is, incomprehensible to Skye that Luka was one of the shooters, but there was strong evidence.

Life has not been easy for Skye and her family in the aftermath of the tragedy. Her father simply left, followed by divorce and re-marriage. She and her despairing mother fled town to live with Skye's Gran. As the 'Sister of a school shooter', she had to contend with targeting by Internet trolls, and vicious bullying at a succession of schools. Now her Gran's frailty and mother's severe depression have forced her back to live with her aunt Mae and attend her old school.

When Skye was thirteen, just before all this happened, Jesse Mandal made her day by asking her out. Then, both their brothers died - one a victim, one a shooter. Hard though it has been for Skye, it's also been tough for Jesse, who wanted to see 'the only person he could talk to' after what happened. Instead she left town and never made contact. How will they cope with being in the same school once more.

That sets the scene for both Skye and Jesse to gradually probe each of their unanswered questions about the shooting - and about each other. But there's much more going on (as expected from an Armstrong novel). Skye is attacked and signs point to Jesse. She's sent horrific videos from that awful day at Riverside. There's a stabbing and a kidnapping - someone clearly has unfinished business.

With this unusual premise, you know you're in for a gripping read, and Kelley Armstrong delivers, as always. Despite her grief and almost impossible situation, Skye shows strength and courage, both of which are needed to handle the shocking truth in Aftermath.

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