Robert J. Wiersema, 2010 by Random House Canada, 448 pages.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Following his bestselling debut, Before I Wake, Robert J. Wiersema returns with this exquisitely plotted blend of supernatural thriller and domestic drama.
novelist Christopher Knox, getting up early every morning to write
isn’t bringing him the sense of fulfillment it once did. It’s been ten
years since his first novel was published, to some acclaim, and he’s hit
a wall in trying to write his next. His marriage to Jacqui isn’t doing
much better, and it’s been months since he’s slept anywhere but his
office above the detached garage.
The part of Chris’s life that is
going well, and brings him easy joy, is his relationship with his
eleven-year-old son, David. While Chris may not make it to all of his
son’s ball games, their nightly ritual of reading together at bedtime
not only helps David overcome his struggles with reading, but is a calm
within the storm for them both, when their days are so full of
challenges. And what better way for a novelist to connect with his child
than through their mutual love of books, and a bedtime story routine as
unwavering as Chris’s love for his son.
When Chris comes across
a book by one of his favourite childhood authors in a local used
bookstore, he knows it will be the perfect gift for David’s birthday. To the Four Directions is
not one Chris has read before, but he knows that Lazarus Took’s
adventurous, magical stories of young heroes and other realms would be
just the thing for David, as they were for him. David is less than
thrilled to receive a book he’s never heard of before, however – he’d
been hoping for The Lord of the Rings – and Jacqui is quick to see it as yet another sign of Chris’s detachment from David’s life.
once they start reading the novel together, David is completely
enthralled, to the extent that he truly cannot put the book down. The
story, of a young peasant boy who is plucked from his home by castle
guards and sent on a quest for a mysterious Sunstone, makes David feel
like he is right there, in the action. Even after his parents have to
take the book away from him, he can’t help but sneak it back to his
room. As David is reading alone that night, he suffers an inexplicable
seizure and falls into a state of unconsciousness. Doctors perform a
barrage of tests, but cannot determine what’s wrong. And as David’s
seizure recurs every night, his father learns that only one thing will
calm it: being read to from his strange new book.
True to his
nature, as someone with an inherent belief in the power of words, Chris
becomes convinced that the secret of David’s collapse lies within the
pages of To the Four Directions. After failed attempts
to find out more about Lazarus Took from his estate, Chris traverses the
continent in search of the truth. Meanwhile, David wakes up within the
story he has been reading – as the boy he has been reading about – and
finds himself facing perils unimaginable, in a world that he soon
realizes was created to capture the hearts and souls of children like
him. Because he’s not alone as he takes over the hunt for the Sunstone,
but accompanied by those boys who have come before him. And as the
quests of father and son lead them toward a fateful collision of worlds,
David realizes that while he’s not the first to fall victim to the
book’s horrific spell, perhaps he can prove himself strong enough to be
What a great book! There was something so different about this one, with its book within a book set up, as well as the mystery and fantasy, that I could hardly put this one down. The story was cleverly designed and executed.
The relationships in this book are realistic and compelling. I really felt for Chris, a struggling writer in the middle of a marriage that is breaking down and a tenuous relationship with his son, David. He finds that he connects with his son by reading to him at night and when he finds a previously unknown book by his favorite childhood author, To the Four Directions, Chris is eager to read it to his reluctant son.
But then David has seizures and goes into a strange unconscious state. His father figures out that he has actually gone into the book and will stop at nothing to save his son.
Then there is the great fantasy and magic. I love the imagination of literally drawing people into a book. I also happen to love young adult fantasy so enjoyed the To the Four Directions book that was told within the overall book.
I recommend this book if you are looking for something different and easy to read.