Blood Sky is the fourth book in the After Trilogy by Traci L. Slatton, a series which has quite obviously advanced beyond its ‘trilogy’ status. It was bound to do so after the wide open end of the third book. This series is an adult post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, and paranormal tale of survival and heady romance.
To recap Slatton’s world: Metal-dissolving balls of mist roam the world, dissolving everything that contains metal in even the smallest of quantities, and that includes humans. It’s been years since the First Day when most of the population loss occurred, but small pockets of survivors dot the world, living in areas untouched by the mists. Emma is the fiery protagonist who survived the First Day with her daughter, but was separated from her husband by an ocean. In France, she met Arthur (her soulmate) and Alexi (his archnemesis). Emma’s husband, a pilot, was able to bring her home to Canada – but Arthur and Alexi soon followed. While both Arthur and Alexi have paranormal connections to the mist, others have also developed paranormal abilities, such as Emma’s ability to heal.
“The biomind is our faculty for extrasensory perception – clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, and other inherent faculties of our species which transcend time, matter, energy, and space, in terms on consciousness and subtle phenomena,” Arthur said in his professional voice.
In the last book, Emma had left her husband despite his ultimatum. Alexi had captured Arthur and Emma couldn’t leave him to die, even when she knew her rescue attempt would be anticipated by Alexi – it was all a trap. She had to try anyhow. Her husband, knowing her past with Arthur, forbid it. If she left, she wouldn’t be welcome home. Emma left despite the ultimatum and saved Arthur, only to begin a new journey – stopping the mists for good.
The plot conceived at the end of the last book is distempered at the onset of Blood Sky when Susie, a teenage girl Emma had saved from a life of sexual servitude, becomes the crux of the story. Emma, Arthur, Susie, and their entourage of devoted friends are together again to begin a new quest. Like Arthur, Susie has the power to control and dispel the mists (a recent development). Susie confides in Emma about her ‘Biomind’ connection with Caris, a young girl that Emma had taken care of in France, and the belief that a union had the potential to rid the world of the mists once and for all. But there’s a catch – they have to get rid of Arthur. Susie is convinced that Arthur is mist-mad (a frequent occurrence) and they need to ditch him and find a pilot to get them to France. If Arthur stays around, he will only try to thwart Susie and Caris’ plans – so she says.
After Emma left her husband to rescue Arthur at the risk of never seeing her children again, and after everything Emma and Arthur have been through, you wouldn’t think Emma would ever turn her back on Arthur. Think again. After Arthur begins to show a side that aligns with Susie’s suspicions, Emma takes a giant side step. It was an unexpected turn of events that threw me for a loop – it involved a big stick and Arthur’s head.
Emma and Susie are joined by two of their friends in the original entourage who catch up with them, a nerdy know-it-all they kidnapped, a sometimes-invisible young man who seems to be rather attached to Susie, Emma’s youngest daughter Beth, and some of their friends from Outpost City, a town where Emma has a standing date with the noose for horse thievery.
Some wild events happen in this new quest including the brief stay in a seemingly vacant but clean town haunted by invisible children, a run-in with a band of hostile raiders, terrifying cairns of the dead that might act as portals for someone they would rather not meet, the heart-breaking loss of a major character, and a high-stakes poker game with servitude on one end and freedom on the other.
THAT POKER GAME.
Is Arthur gone for good? If you’ve read the first three books, you’d know that this isn’t a possibility. Arthur has chased Emma halfway across the world. A good knock on the head isn’t going to slow him down. Another spoiler? Not really. Not if you know anything about Arthur and Emma. I was surprised that Emma would side with Susie over Arthur so quickly, but I shouldn’t have been. Slatton will toss in a mind-melting change up when you least expect it.
The story is definitely not resolved at the end of Blood Sky and there will most certainly be a new book coming out, one that I wish I had my hands on right now. I’ve been effectively drawn back into Slatton’s world and I’m not ready to leave.