The Second Sleep – Robert Harris
Excellent – a clever, absorbing post-apocalyptic story set 800 years in the future – the second sleep of the title referring to how people used to have a first sleep, wake during the night, and then fall into a second sleep.
Fairfax, the main character, is engaging and believable, though his rapid changes of heart through the story seem to happen a little easily. Every now and then small factual errors jerked my out of my immersion in the narrative (several references to a horse’s bridle when it made no sense, the context meaning it had to be the reins; a description of sheep lying down to feed their lambs – lambs nurse standing up from birth – but if you’re not a horse rider or familiar with the habits of sheep, you wouldn’t notice).
Harris gives you a lot to think about, though he paints in the world of the “Ancients” with a light brush. The plot rolls along satisfactorily, all the major characters are vivid, distinct, and likeable, and even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, I didn’t: the final couple of pages were genuinely surprising. Highly recommended.
Published by Hutchinson in 2019