‘The City, Not Long After’ is set in San Francisco and the surrounding countryside after a plague kills off most of the human race. In the years shortly after, the city becomes filled with ghosts, and if you walk along the streets in the early morning, while everyone sleeps, you can see the dreams of the inhabitants. The mysterious, magical world is threatened by General Fourstar, intent on taking over the city and re-creating the United States. This book deals with art and war, and the nature of fighting. The world immediately draws you in and makes you want to explore the city. It’s a short read, but I highly recommend it.

The story starts off with the dreams of the city’s inhabitants; Danny-boy paints the sky blue, the Nameless woman walks out of the sky, and The Machine builds a mechanical angel. Briefly, the reader will get short back-stories of the people of the city who lived before the plague. These segments are short, but in a few words the author can quickly paint a vivid picture of her characters. The events that led to the decimation of the human race are sketched in subtle detail. The exact details become clearer later, as the story goes on.

San Francisco has become a magical city, inhabited by artists and ghosts, the city protects the few people who live there. It soon becomes clear though that the city is threatened by Fourstar, a general who has already taken over many other cities by force. The nature of war, how to fight, and what it means, are explored as the artists try to come to terms with the threat they face. The ending is bitter-sweet, making me sad and glad at the same time.

The story is creative and deep, the characters all become friends, and the city is a place I’d like to visit. I read it on the plane, and I’d highly recommend it. I immensely enjoyed it and finished it in one sitting, and I can imagine myself re-reading it again many times.