by Tanya Byrne
Publication: September 27, 2022 (July 22, 2021)
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Ash has been disappointed many times over by girls who never show up or use her to experiment. When she makes a connection with Poppy, she is suspicious of it until Poppy shows up to their coffee date. Just when it looks like Ash has finally found love, it comes to an aburpt end. In the afterlife as a reaper, Ash is told she needs to move on but an accidental meeting that results in Poppy seeing her makes it difficult to do. Byrne’s Afterlove is a bittersweet story of first love and loss. It explores the possibilities of what happens when we die but love remains.
The writing is lovely and flows so effortlessly. It made me wistful, recalling my first love as Ash experienced it with Poppy. At first, it felt like instalove, but then I remembered that love as a teenager did feel this way–fast and exciting, a flurry of emotions. There was hope and the future was filled with endless opportunities to spend together. Byrne does a wonderful job presenting it here with Ash and Poppy who begin to plan for the future from their first meeting to their unexpected last moments.
While I enjoyed falling in love in the first half, the second half left me feeling like something was missing. The transition is heartbreaking as Ash tries to adjust to the afterlife. This new world is not overly complicated nor does it feel overwhelming. It’s familiar, but Byrne adds different rules to distinguish this afterlife and make it her own. As Ash tries to come to terms with her new status, she continues to pine away for Poppy with little thought about her family. This latter part was what got me. Of course, everyone is different, but the first person the book made me think about was my mom. The book made me miss her immensely, so it was disappointing that Ash hardly grieved them when they were an important part of her life.
I was drawn to Afterlove because of the paranormal element of the love story, how love could live on even in death. With its focus on Ash and Poppy’s love for each other, the book successfully delivers a tragic paranormal romance. Unfortunately, I could not help but feel bereft due to the lack of closure with Ash’s family. I recommend the book for romance lovers, especially to readers looking for sapphic leads and a touch of the paranormal.
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