Littlefield’s third Aftertime novel advances both the heroine’s internal narrative — Cass and the reader both learn the true story of her time as a Beater — and the external narrative, as the settlement where Cass and Ruthie have been staying is breached and the survivors head to the hills. Some of the twists and characters’ reactions strain credulity at times, but the nonstop action and emotional ups and downs will keep the pages flying until the explosive ending.
Cass Dollar and her daughter Ruthie have been staying at New Eden, a settlement on a river island the Beaters can’t reach. But the ever-adaptive Beaters are figuring out how to swim, and when a mysterious traveler brings news of a stronghold to the north where they’ll be safe, the party sets out on foot. At the same time, Cass is working through her feelings for the two men in her life, Smoke and Dor, and when an important figure from her past resurfaces, everything changes in a moment. (LUNA, Feb., 400 pp., $14.95)