Prison of Sleep – Tim Pratt

“How far I’ve come, and how little I have to show for it.

We first met Zax in Doors of Sleep, as he learned to deal with a mysterious condition that saw him travel to another world every time he fell asleep. I said in my review for the first installment that it was mostly world-building and the plot and threat were introduced relatively late. Well, in the follow up, we get to find out everything about the threat, the resistance towards it, and what’s happened to Zax and his various companions from book one.

As with the first book, I do like the laid-back writing style, very personable and chatty. And it was great to find out more about the characters and also what’s going on with all this sleeping.

However, even though I found the story easy enough to read – enjoyable, even, to settle down with for a bit – overall I wasn’t as fond of this as I thought I’d be. There were just a few too many things that irked me.

For one, we split the narrative between Zax and the brief ‘love of his life’, Ana. The two threads are offset in time, which I thought was a… well, a choice, let’s leave it at that. The problem was probably that I just really didn’t like Ana. She’s hopelessly obsessed with Zax – this person she knew relatively briefly – to the point where it’s 99% of her character here, and that just irked massively. Her sole purpose here is chasing through the multiverse after her long lost luuurrrve. Bleh.

Zax was a fun character in book 1, so spending probably less than half the book with him here didn’t really help. As the threads overlap, meet, and break apart again, he rejoins several companions, like Minna – the plant-lady and answer to every problem, it seems – and new characters. But often it all feels very brief, a little rushed, and far too superficial. There’s just such a lot of information to push, to the detriment of character growth or much plot beyond various characters dashing about the multiverse. I miss some of the new world exploration stuff from book one, too.

All a bit of a shame, as it’s a cool idea, some great characters, but it came a little too close to not quite fitting together for me, and certainly being too weighted towards all the running around maniacally without slowing down to get into any aspect more deeply enough to feel satisfying.

Prison of Sleep book coverNetGalley eARC: 400 pages / 23 chapters
First published: 26th April 2022
Series: The Journals of Zaxony Delatree book 2
Read from 15th-18th April 2022

My rating: 6/10

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