This book picks up not too long after the second book left off. I get the feeling it might be only a few months later. The post-apocolyptic world is still plagued with deadly mists that dissolve almost everything in their path.
At first, it appears that Emma has found some stability, but this changes quickly. She has to make some tough decisions, yet again. This time, however, her choices require her to give up everything she loves (but not at the same time).
It is difficult to write about a third book in a series without giving away spoilers. My intent is to keep things as spoiler free as possible. There is a chance I may unwittingly reveal a clue that gives away a hint of things to come.
At the end of Cold Light, Emma had to make a decision. Which of the two men she loved would she stay with, and which would she leave behind? At the start of Far Shore, Emma is with the man she selected. There was potential for a stable, peaceful, life (well, as much as one can hope to have in a chaotic, ravaged, desperate world).
The problem is that the man she left behind is “haunting” her dreams. Emma isn’t troubled by these visits, much to the consternation of the man she chose to stay with. Her body is physically with one man, but her heart remained with the other. Tension builds, and it seems like the situation Emma chose is not going to be without strife.
After an argument with the man she choose to stay with, Emma is visited by … I’m going to say people who need her help. A friend is having trouble giving birth, and only Emma, with her healing hands, can save the mother and the baby. Of course, Emma is willing to help out.
Before she leaves, the man she chose to stay with issues an ultimatum. He tells Emma that she can go, but if she does, he does not want her to return. He is tired of her need to go off on adventures, and it is no secret that he suspects Emma’s desire to go help her friend is actually a way for Emma to return to the man she left behind.
From Emma’s perspective, she is being asked to choose between her family and her “family”. She does not have the time to weigh the options because her friend’s life is at stake. And so, she goes, and as a result, loses loved ones who are very dear to her. I’ll leave you to read the book to find out what happened to the mother and the baby.
Later, and I’m going to be intentionally vague about this, Emma is reunited with the man she left behind. He’s been through some horrific torture, and appears to be so far gone that Emma cannot save him. She tries her best, and does not succeed immediately. Afterwards, the man that she recovers is not the same as he used to be – in very dramatic ways.
I’m not one to get emotional over what I read in a book, but the chapters where it was revealed what happened to the man Emma left behind, her attempts to heal him, and the result of the healing, were absolutely heartbreaking. Emma cannot go back to one group of her loved ones. She spends a lot of time isolated from the other group (for reasons I’ll leave you to discover). The man she left behind is physically with her, and yet, not there at all.
Emma has lost everyone that she loves. The extreme loneliness that Emma experiences is so strong that I could feel it as I read through the book. Traci L. Slatton makes what could have been a bleak, depressing, portion of the book into something visceral and real.
If Emma wasn’t such a fighter, I don’t think she would have survived. She is still strong, despite what has happened, and she struggles to try and rebuild a life for herself and the man she loved, left behind, and then healed. When she is about to hit her breaking point, something unexpected happens. An old enemy comes looking for her – not to cause her harm – but to offer friendship (in return for a big favor).
Without giving away what happens, I will say that this enemy-turned-friend is an important factor to a quest that Emma and her “family” are about to embark on at the end of Far Shore. They need him, and also need the help of the man Emma chose to stay with (and then left behind).
Far Shore might very well be the most emotionally driven of the three books in the After series. By the time the book concludes, most of the loose ends left in the story are resolved. There is a satisfying ending. At the same time, the book points readers towards the next big adventure for Emma and her “family”. I am looking forward to Blood Sky, the fourth book in the After series.