The Sleep Room by F R Tallis
The Sleep Room is a work of fiction, but it is one of those remarkable pieces that is more fact than anything else. The settings, the characters, and the events of their lives may be the work of the author, F.R. Tallis, but the story upon which everything is built is real. It did happen, and that only serves to make everything more chilling.
The Sleep Room focuses on James Richardson a psychiatric physician in 1950 England. The novel is based in Suffolk – my home country – and frequently mentions my home town (horror bonus points for that, for it is a novel in itself).
It focuses around a controversial therapy which includes leaving patients sedated on a long term basis. These ‘sleepers’ are kept in a specially designed sleep room, and are roused, not to the point of waking but close to it, once a day to be fed, have their bowels voided, and that is it. ECT is given regularly, but never is an attempt made during the novel to check on the progress of the patients and their mental health.
Working as the sole doctor on site, James starts noticing strange things with the patients. This should concern him, but his mentor is often on hand to allay his fears. Leaving James to worry about another ‘favourite’ patient of his, *name*, the nurse he has fallen in love with, and also the Poltergeist that seems to be intent on making his moments of rest a rather tormenting experience.
What Did I Make of The Sleep Room?
The novel started rather slow, and there was a fair bit of not technical jargon, but shall we say, medical discussions that were necessary to the plot, but made the first few chapters a little tough going.
The story picked up quickly, and while the sleep room was a creepy enough component to add to the isolated location and the solitude of James Richardson’s life up there, the addition of the Poltergeist was a nice tough, and it helped to move the story along.
It gave a nice place for the lead to build his investigation on the goings on in the house, and the mysteriously speedy departure of his predecessor, not to mention the shocking death of a young nurse.
This was coupled with the fact that a doctor of his position could not start rambling about ghosts and ghouls haunting his place of work without being on the receiving end of the treatment he was normally in charge of giving, makes the journey the main character makes all the more compelling.
The writing was chilling in places, tender in others, and sad in several also. The duality of the conflict, the supporting characters and the hints that were given at the time as being just that, kept you thinking until the end.
I enjoyed the way that the author would leave clues in the text, ‘I would later wish I had dwelled longed on his choice of words that night, and other such sentences, to keep your hooked and get your mind turning.
The story moved at a good pace, and while it was made obvious all the way through the book, the way certain elements of the story would end, it did not detract from it. It was an intentional tactic employed and therefore not the result of a weak storyline.
I would give The Sleep Room a rating of
It was a solid read, creepy in places, and the writer’s first attempt at horror. His previous books have been crime fiction, and this was clear to see in his writing style. Once again, in the way clues were left, and if read with the analytical eye of a writer, could be pieced together relatively completely.