Shazza Maddog's Reviews > Dark Sleeper

Dark Sleeper by Jeffrey E. Barlough
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's review
Sep 26, 2011

liked it

This is a novel by Jeffrey E. Barlough, whom I've never heard of. However, K mentioned it in passing on the yahoo list we belong to as the cover having a pair of "wooly mammoths pulling a carriage". That intrigued the heck out of me, so I was tickled when the book arrived in the mail.

The first thing that struck me when I started looking at Dark Sleeper is the sheer size of the novel. There are 484 pages and a character listing in the front. Hmmm. Character listings always give me a little pause - just how many people am I supposed to keep track of, anyway? Not to mention that Mr. Barlough names each character in the book - including the cats and horses and wooly mammoths and the one lone dog - but doesn't include all of them in the character list!

The novel takes place (mostly) in a port town known as Salthead. We never actually find out where Salthead is, only that a cataclysm happened previously which pretty much destroyed the world as we know it and killed off a great many people. The story is narrated by someone (we never actually get the name of our narrator), who witnessed the recorded events back when he was very young. The story starts out with the return of a sailor, who was lost at sea and is very much dead but wanders through the streets of Salthead, tormenting the woman who played him. From there on out, the story takes so many twists and turns, you almost need a scorecard not only to remember who is who and how that person is alligned with everyone else in the town but what little thing happened here that causes a ripple effect elsewhere.

The upshot is that an item is stolen, a monster is loose and our band of heroes, including a professor, a doctor, one of the landed gentry and Misses Mona and Nina Jacks, must solve the mystery of why the item is stolen and what is causing the strangeness in Salthead.

The book is quite engaging, the characters are all very well-drawn and the story meanders around like a drunken sailor. It takes a while for the story to actually start being told (mostly so all the players can be introduced - but not well enough for the reader to actually know anything about them, so some of them continually surprise up to the postscript).

My main problem with this novel was that the verb tense kept switching around from present to past tense, with no rhyme nor reason why. It's a bit disconcerting, especially when the story is to have taken place in the past. But if you want a long, odd read, Dark Sleeper is something you want to look into.

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