Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The fine line between reality and fantasy

The Sleeping Dead

By Richard Farren Barber


Publisher:  DarkFuse

Pub. Date: August 12, 2014

Rating: 2 & 1/2 out of 5 star


Every writer of science fiction and horror seems to have an apocalypse. But Richard Farren Barber's version may hit too many people too close to home. In The Sleeping Dead the world is hit with a suicide epidemic. people are killing themselves and those who do not actively commit the act will sit down and waste away. These are the ones our protagonist calls the sleeping dead. The two survivors Jackson and Susan battle against the voices and their suicidal urges using their short term goals goals and the support of each other as their only weapons.

This is a short novella where its strengths and weaknesses end up battling each other not unlike its two protagonists. On one hand, the author is skillful in putting to print the thoughts of a suicidal person and the conflicts that engulfs them. On the other hand, it may be a misstep to take a struggle many people live each day and place in in a apocalyptic setting. With the suicide plague unexplained, the reader may wonder where real life begins and the horrors ends. Or maybe there is no separation. Perhaps that is Barber's point. Yet I found myself hoping for and never receiving an explanation. In some apocalyptic novels , the lack of explanation works well. Here it doesn't. There is an incompleteness to this novella that conflicts with the excellent emotional description and skillful prose. To put it bluntly, it's a good start to a longer story. I find myself wanting to recommend it for what it is and simultaneously wishing it was more. Overall, it doesn't hit the three star level so I am l left with a two and a half star tale.

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