Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Every Winter, the human population hibernates.

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.

But teasing truth from Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping and stamp collecting, ensure you aren’t eaten by Nightwalkers whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk. So long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you’ll be fine.

Reading this book was like re-connecting with an old friend. The characters might be different and the setting new but the style and humour were undeniably Fforde. 

As always Fforde makes you feel right at home in the most improbable of settings, this time on an AU Earth at the start of the Ice Age like winter that Humans need to hibernate through. We follow Charlie (or Wonky as he is known to his annoyance) as he stays awake for his first Winter joining a small band of hardened people who stay awake to ensure that others are looked after while they sleep. 

Being his first winter, Charlie should be spending it somewhere nice and safe indoors filing and making tea but fate seems to have other ideas in store for him as he keeps hearing about a viral dream involving a Blue Buick and creepy hands. Of course Charlie can’t just ignore something like that can he….

Charlie was a likeable character from the start and only got more so as the book progressed. A nice guy who tried to do his best but somehow always ended up way over his head. There were some nice subtle nods to Fforde’s back catalogue with mentions going to gingham fabric and Caravaggio (I’m sure there are others that I missed but these ones stood out. Sadly no Dodo’s this time though! 

A hugely fun read that I thoroughly recommend.

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