Amelia Ashley is dead but lost. Wandering. Unable to touch or be touched; unable to be heard or seen; unable to control her own appearances and disappearances. And then there are the nightmares that aren’t nightmares of drowning; reenacting the last moments of her death. Almost the only memories she has of her life. It’s a lonely and miserable sort of half-existence, until one night when the nightmare changed. Instead of waking up at the moment of her death, Amelia opened her eyes to see the black of the river. This time someone else was drowning.
Joshua’s car had run into the railing of High Bridge, throwing Joshua out and into the river below. Amelia manages to save him (no, I won’t tell you how) a bond is created between the two teens. Joshua can see, hear, and touch Amelia. There is a reason that so many deaths occur at High Bridge, though, and Amelia has just called attention to herself in a very big way. The bridge and river are a gate to the netherworld, and the demons who collect souls at this gate really want Amelia working for them. If she refuses, they’ll put all of their power into making sure she is destroyed – along with everyone she’s ever loved.
Hereafter sets up the first battle with the demons and their first emissary, begins Amelia and Joshua’s love story, and sets the tone for the rest of the trilogy. Arise takes a few twists, breaking the whole “nothing good ever happens in the second book” trend. Here Amelia (and Joshua and his ENTIRE family) get caught up in some New Orleans voodoo and Amelia’s very existence changes. Elegy finishes off the trilogy with the demons’ final gambit and threat, Amelia’s heart-wrenching decisions about the future of her relationship with Joshua, and another surprisingly good twist to the plot.
Throughout the novels Hudson stays very true to the characters she develops in Hereafter. In fact, it’s Amelia’s inherent stubbornness and desire to protect those she loves, even at her own expense, which provides much of the suspense of the novels. You know she’s up to something, but you aren’t quite sure what she has up her ectoplasmic sleeve. Another important facet of the novels is the impossible love story. Even more impossible than a human girl and a sparkly vampire is the relationship between a human boy and a ghost. From the very beginning you know it won’t work out. It can’t work out. Can it? Ooohhhh….is the author going to actually make it work out? Yeah, I’m not telling you that, either.
The Hereafter trilogy is fairly unique in that I see no way for the author to come back and awkwardly sneak in more books (yes, I’m glaring at you, Mortal Instruments!). This series is done. Finished. It had a beginning, a middle, and a very satisfying end. If you enjoyed Twilight, or if you enjoy stories with teen angst and impossible romances that are fraught with sexual tension, check out the Hereafter trilogy.