“Survivability has increased during hibernation since the introduction of Dormitoria, efficient weight-gain regimes and Morphenox, but superstition and fear remain.”
Imagine an Earth that never really made it out of the last ice age. Perhaps in such a world humans will have evolved to hibernate, sleeping away the cold winter after laying down stores of fat. Technology develops a little differently here, where priorities aren’t quite the same, and top of the desirability stakes is Morphenox, the drug that increases your likelihood of surviving the winter.
Charlie Worthing is keen to escape a life working for the orphanage that raised her, so when she’s given the opportunity to work for the Winter Consulate – a job with Morphenox benefits – she jumps at the chance. This means fighting against the natural instinct to sleep through the cold months, and brings her into contact with the strange winter community. But, why are so many of them sharing the same strange dream? What’s really happening to the zombie-like sleepers who don’t quite come back? And can Charlie survive all that a winter has to through at a novice?
I love Jasper Fforde’s books, his sense of humour and his settings that are almost like our reality but a few large steps sideways. There’s something hugely British about the mix, and really, where else are you going to see (zombie) Rick Astley pop up as a character?
So, to this hugely imaginatively skewed world add a mystery and another puzzle to solve, a dollop of danger, and a set of strange winter myths. Take a moment to ponder the strangeness of dreaming, and question if memory is all you think it is. Shake well, and enjoy!
This isn’t quite Shades of Grey (an absolutely brilliant, sadly (still) stand-alone book) for me, but much as I loved Thursday Next this might be even better. Certainly, I was always keen for moments I could steal to read more of this, and was genuinely disappointed that it was finished! Definitely recommended.
NetGalley eARC: 402 pages
First published: August 2018
Series: none (sob!)
Read from 1st-10th August 2018
My rating: 9/10