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Blood Sky (Book 4 in the After Series)
Publisher: Parvati Press

Blood Sky by Traci L. Slatton is the fourth book in the After series and picks up where Far Shore left off, with Emma, Arthur and their group heading away from Outpost City, following the mists ravaging it and Arthur making it a Safe Zone. Arthur has determined that he and Alexei, his mad Russian foe, can join forces and take control of the mists, saving the world from their destructive forces. However, the rest of the group doesn't realize that Arthur's agenda stems from his creation of the mists in the Before and he doesn't want to destroy them. He still sees them as a possible force for good, even though that is how the whole thing started, resulting in essentially the destruction of the world. Arthur and the others also don't realize that Susie, the crack marksman with a bow and arrow that they rescued from raiders, seems to have developed some powers of her own concerning the mists and she is the only one who can see Arthur's true intentions and possible mild madness when it comes to the mists. Somehow, she must convince Emma to help her get to their old camp in France, where a young girl named Caris awaits. Susie is convinced that, together, she and Caris can have power over the mists and destroy them once and for all, but they need a pilot to get there. Can Emma convince Haywood, the husband she left to rescue Arthur and her old friends from Alexei, to pilot them to Europe or will he stand by his ultimatum of Emma never returning home if she left to save Arthur? What's worse, how can Emma leave her beloved Arthur and her dear friends Jeannie and Robert, Donny, Kangee, Gaff, Marco, Laurette and Nwokocha, and Theo, her adopted Serbian brother in the After? Fortunately, when she and Susie break away, she is joined by a couple of dear companions, but it doesn't make walking away from her true love any easier.

After encountering raiders and losing a beloved friend, Emma realizes that she is on her own for a pilot and the group travels to Outpost City, the outlaw town where she was previously sentenced to hang for stealing a horse. It's a dangerous place to be, but their best bet for finding a pilot, and they have some old friends there. Emma soon realizes that she will have to tangle with a formidable woman named Yeva who runs the local watering hole, the Dark Horse saloon, and the town's gambling outfit, if she has any hope of winning Yeva's drunken slave (and once great pilot) Franklin from her. It will be a game of life and death, and while Emma can play poker, can she beat the best and survive long enough to escape Outpost City?

Blood Sky is a good read, just like all of the After series is, as I dearly love all of the characters and Traci continues to add new ones to the mix. That being said, Blood Sky felt a lot like a bridge to the next book. Sure, a lot happened and I will admit to abject weeping when a long-time character died in this book, but when Blood Sky drew to a close, it left me wanting. I suppose all of the After books leave me waiting for the next installment, it just seemed like Blood Sky was mostly about traveling from place to place. When the book hit its crescendo at the poker game, it just felt over too soon, although I am not a poker player and I will readily admit to being somewhat lost during the various card games they were playing.

If you are a fan of Traci L. Slatton's books, specifically the After series, you'll want to pick Blood Sky up immediately and see what shenanigans Arthur, Emma and the rest of the core group have been doing, but be warned that you'll probably be left hungry, waiting for the next installment.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins
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