The Sleep Room by F. R. Tallis

The Sleep RoomThe Sleep Room by F.R. Tallis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I find it fascinating to read other reviews of The Sleep Room by F.R Tallis, because some people found this story to hit the perfect note of classic suspense, while others found it slow, predictable, and a letdown. It seems that the biggest disparity of opinion comes in reader’s perceptions of the final twist of the novel…some people thought it was brilliant, and others felt it undermined the rest of the book.
Here are my thoughts about the The Sleep Room. First of all, I enjoyed the setting, the isolated mental asylum of Wyldehope Hall on the Suffolk coast. Crashing waves, misty bogs, shadowy corridors…the novel is a pleasure of gothic escapism.
However, like some reviewers, I felt that the main character, James Richardson was difficult to root for, even though I tried. Although in many ways, his intentions seemed altruistic, there was also a lascivious, narcissistic, unforgiving side of him that made him rather repellent.
Furthermore, the plot was a lot of buildup with not a lot of follow through. The ending of the The Sleep Room was confusing…and almost seemed to consist of two distinct stories.
On the one hand, there was a more traditional partial explanation for the mysterious events that were occurring at Wyldehope Hall. And on the other, the author threw in a twist, that for me, undermined the significance of the entire story that had gone before. The surprise felt unnecessary, and cheapened what could have been an enjoyable, classic ghost story without it. It almost seemed to me like the twist was an excuse to create a flashy distraction, and let the author off the hook from the more difficult task of coming up with a compelling explanation for the mystery that he had created.
In The Sleep Room, F.R. Tallis has written a novel with a strong sense of place and an intriguing premise. Unfortunately, in my opinion, he was unable to back this up with a convincing conclusion, or compelling main character.

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