The Sleep Room

November 8, 2013 - 4:45 am No Comments

I use Grammarly for proofreading because I love the ‘smell of coffee in the morning’, and I’m not wasting time doing the hard work myself!

The Sleep Room

Author: F R Tallis

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Page count: 384pp

Release Date: 4th July 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

F R Tallis is a prolific writer, but not as F R Tallis – as Frank Tallis, Clinical Psychologist and Crime Writer. However The Sleep Room his second horror novel, ventures into supernatural territory. Set in 1955 this novel features young psychiatrist James Richardson setting off to rural Suffolk to take a job at Wyldehope Hall for the charismatic Dr Hugh Maitland. As part of his role he ends up running a controversial project involving sleep therapy, where highly disturbed patients are treated by keeping them asleep for 21 hours per day for up to five months.

The sleepers at Wyldehope are all women with a past and Maitland is reluctant to disclose their history; these are women rejected socially and carrying the burden of deep secrets, which Richardson gradually finds out through a series of hidden patient reports. But why won’t Maitland divulge their secrets to the doctor treating them?

The reader can tell from the outset that Tallis is a mystery writer who loves sharing a problem to solve because at its heart, this is a tale of mystery and suspense.

The novel is written in the first person, a clever technique given the end denouement, which when done right, avoids narrative ‘holes’ and can be very effective. Tallis’ medical knowledge is evident throughout the text, in the dialogue, and in the analysis and diagnoses. The tone of the book feels very upper middle class, largely due to the fact it is a ‘stiff British upper lip’ period piece, imbuing it with an old style horror/haunted house vibe. Something isn’t quite right at Wyldehope and Richardson is determined to find out what. Are the patient’s fears and delusions actually hallucinations or are they real?

Despite the grim nature of the novel, and the occasional visceral parts, there is also humour, particularly as we meet a David Icke style inpatient who believes his actions are being manipulated by a reptilian civilisation. After all, given Tallis’ credentials, who knows if he met Mr Icke?! The scene with the patient Mr Foster is written with wry amusement.

Tallis peppers the narrative with clues to enable Richardson to reach a conclusion. With its period setting and ghostly aura, this feels rather like The Woman in White.

Altogether, this is a superior supernatural novel and a real page turner. Gripping stuff!

 

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