Bedtime Story Hardcover – Nov 2 2010
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Quill & Quire
Christopher Knox has been struggling to complete his second novel for nearly a decade, and his family is falling apart. He’s moved into the garage and is able to connect with his son, David, only when he reads him his nightly bedtime story. For his birthday, Christopher buys David a one-of-a-kind copy of To the Four Directions by forgotten fantasy author Lazarus Took. David doesn’t normally enjoy reading, but quickly becomes obsessed with the adventures of the book’s young hero, “Dafyd.”
While reading an especially thrilling passage, David has a seizure. He falls into a coma, but finds he’s trapped inside the novel, forced to live out the hero’s quest. After discovering that reading to David from To the Four Directions staves off further seizures, Christopher is driven to learn the origin of the mysterious book, hoping to understand the nature of his son’s illness.
This is familiar territory for fans of author (and frequent Q&Q reviewer) Robert J. Wiersema’s first two books. His best-selling 2006 novel Before I Wake and the 2009 novella The World More Full of Weeping were both literary/supernatural hybrids about families in crisis, with children at their cores. Before I Wake was even structured around a comatose child. Bedtime Story nevertheless remains fresh.
The details of Christopher’s research into the origins of Took’s novel sketch an accurate picture of the publishing world without seeming forced or overwhelming the reader with unnecessary detail. Wiersema’s straightforward and accessible prose lacks stylistic flourishes, but his characters – Christopher and his wife, Jacqui, in particular – are nonetheless nuanced and fully formed. The characters and situations from To the Four Directions, by contrast, are stripped down to archetypes and mythic structures, a technique favoured by post-Tolkien commercial fantasy giants such as the late David Eddings. Wiersema’s faux-fantasy style is so precise it almost works against him: the transitions back to the more character-driven main storyline can be jarring at times.
As Christopher comes closer to uncovering the secrets of To the Four Directions, the line between Bedtime Story’s fantasy and literary elements blurs, but the story only gets more exciting, and ultimately, more satisfying.
"Powerful… Bedtime Story is all that it should be. More. It is frightening. It is fabulous entertainment. It is intensely thought-provoking. Above all, it is a hint and a tickle of things to come."
— January Magazine
"About a good book, we say we 'devoured it.' But what if a book devoured us?… In Robert Wiersema'ss Bedtime Story, it does."
— The Vancouver Sun
“Un-put-downable. . . . Wiersema advances his story not through any lyrical flourishes but through masterful storytelling and intricate plotting. The narrative clips along perfectly in tune with the events of the novel, weaving seamlessly back and forth between worlds and times, and drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the mystery and suspense. . . . Bedtime Story is immensely enjoyable.”
— Edmonton Journal
“Serpentine and clever in structure, . . . rich in weird, surprising characters. . . . Enchanting.”
— The Globe and Mail
“Creative and well-written.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
“Fascinating and transformative. . . . The ‘supernatural thriller’ aspect of the novel is well-oiled and keeps the pages turning.”
— Philip Marchand, National Post
“An absorbing excursion. . . . [Bedtime Story] . . . is a genre unto itself, a hybrid of supernatural thriller and sword-and-sorcery fantasy.”
— Times Colonist
Top Customer Reviews
All in all, I was satisfied with how it played out. I was cheering on the main character in all aspects of his life (career, love, son, etc.) and the plot kept moving forward at a good pace. I was almost worried the fantasy plot was going to be novel length but it was just enough and played side by side with the main plot well. It got weird when it started to involve the agent and murder (and the mafia?), though, especially when compared to the life of the main character and to the fantasy story. That was a big feeling change for me and I had hoped for something a bit less grand scale but at least it played off alright (except for the end with the bodies left in the manor, just excusing it as hoping the whole manor burns down even though the agent also died, too; the loose ends, if you can call them that, made the end a bit less satisfactory).
I was confused once the plots started to converge, but that may also have been because I was trying to rush finish. Still, it was a nice end to the fantasy world and a happy ending over all so I'm pleased with that. I almost worried it would have to be a tragic end for the kid but the effort was worth it.
The realms of fantasy and the love for the written word leap right off the pages and wrap you in warmth. A good book is always like coming home, whether you know the author or are a first timer. I would recommend this! Please read, you won't be sorry you did! I'm glad I read it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Unfortunately, somewhere in the next few hundred pages the voice of the story gets lost. In the world of David Knox, the protagonist's son trapped in the book, the tension and pacing of the first part of the story remains. In the world of his father Chris, where most of the text focuses on once his son has been taken over by the book, the pacing becomes erratic. This is all the more jarring when contrasted towards what continues to happen in David's world. Towards the end, we suddenly have a new POV character and an abrupt, almost anticlimactic denouement. The events of the end, despite supposedly being the resolution to the tension being built up for hours of reading left me with a vague feeling of bewilderment. Too many questions were left unanswered, and though a book can be ended with a certain amount of ambiguity remaining if the characters acknowledge it and willingly turn their backs on it, if Bedtime Story tries to do it then it fails.
Obviously the other reviewers enjoyed this book, but it was one of the few fiction books I've read - let alone bought new in hardcover - that I just didn't want to keep. I sold it to a used bookstore - hopefully whoever reads it gets more enjoyment out of it than I did.