During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness and devoid of human activity. Well, not quite.
Your name is Charlie Worthing and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.
You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind. When the dreams start to kill people, it's unsettling. When you get the dreams too, it's weird. When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.
Reviewed on 15th December 2018
Jasper Fforde’s new novel, seemingly a stand-alone tale, explores the question “What if humans hibernated?” through an exploration of a complex world from the point of view of a young novice who is enlisted to remain awake through the winter to help look after society during the frozen months.
There’s a lot of reminiscences of Fforde’s previous novels - the dystopia is milder than in Shades of Grey, and the fantasy milder than in the Dragonslayer series, but all have a common feel and this makes the narrative a comfortable one to slip into.
The characters are fascinating and compelling, with some very novel ideas added into the mix. The world is incredibly rich and I love how much thought Fforde has clearly put into exploring how a society might have evolved differently given a seemingly small change in its starting conditions.
Shades of Grey remains my favourite Fforde novel, but this makes its way into second place. I don’t know why everyone isn’t reading it.