Sleeper(s) by Paul Kane

SLEEPERS
Sleeper(s) by Paul Kane
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (96 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The sleepy English locality of Middletown is about to get even sleepier, as a strange malady starts to affect the population. It spreads quickly, causing the authorities to quarantine this small city, and seek out the only person who might be able to help: Doctor Andrew Strauss. However, Strauss has a secret, one that has linked him to this place all his life, one that has linked him to a particular person there, though he doesn’t yet know who. But he’s not the only one hiding things – and as he ventures into Middletown to collect samples with an army escort, a mixture of UK and US troops, cracks soon begin to appear in the operation. Especially when his team come up against the most terrifying threat humankind has ever known…

Dr. Strauss is about to visit a quarantined city in the hope that he can develop a treatment for the highly contagious, mysterious aliment that has struck every man, woman, and child who lives there. The problem is that he has to work closely with someone on this assignment who has every reason to distrust him.

The vivid descriptions of what is happening to the residents of Middletown paint such a horrifying picture of the changes they’re undergoing that I nearly jumped out of my skin when a piece of my hair brushed against my neck as I read that scene. Every assumption I’d made about what was actually happening in Middletown was thrown out the window as Dr. Strauss begins collecting samples and attempting to find a cure.

This story was not marketed as a romance in any way, so I was quite surprised to meet characters in a love triangle. Their conflicted feelings about their predicament are not central to the main plot and there are no sex scenes, but the love triangle was mentioned often enough that I briefly wondered if the publisher had mislabeled this book. It would have been helpful for me if the blurb hinted at this particular subplot as it is not one of the traditional tropes of the horror genre.

Mr. Kane ultimately had good reasons for including the scenes that initially confused me, though. By the climax he weaves all of the subplots together in ways I never would have predicted they would fit. The final glimpse of this world was the perfect capstone to this eerie, rule-bending tale.

Sleeper(s) kept me up late last night. I’d recommend this book in particular to readers who love techno-thrillers and science fiction that is heavily influenced by current scientific knowledge.

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