Strange things happen in small villages and outsiders are rarely welcome, Alderston is no exception. Into the village come Jamie and his family. They live on the road, making their living from crime which suits Sarge, the father, very well. Older brother Liam takes after his father, strong and tough, with ambitions to be a professional fighter. Jamie is different: he is a dreamer who hates the life of crime and knows that he is a disappointment to his father.
A strange message entices them north to the village of Alderston, the promise of a profitable ‘job’ and free lodgings keep them there. odd things start to happen: Jamie sees visions of a woman covered in pond weed, a young man dies in a car accident and on the night of his funeral his body goes missing. Jamie’s only friend, Keeley, is ostracised by the rest of the village, possibly for being a witch or maybe for being a bit different.
Afterwalkers is a fascinating tale of zombies, witchcraft and tradition. Set in Lancashire it references the Pendle Witches as well as its Danelaw past and you really feel that anything could happen in this remote and isolated village where people trace their families back for generations on end. Becker manages to infuse the whole story in darkness, from the opening scenes of night-time skulduggery and empty motorway drives. The village, cut off by snow, seems to be in constant darkness with strange ‘going ons’ in the graveyard.
Jamie is well portrayed as a boy who has always been treated as a runt who finally comes into his own as he uses his mind and intuition to solve the mystery that the people of Alderston have tried so hard to hide. We also see his confusion as he twists and turns trying to work out who to trust and who can protect him and slowly we see the dynamics in the family begin to change and the darkness lift.
Afterwalkers is an exciting mystery and much better than the usual zombie-fest.