Thursday, August 13, 2015

"The Sleepwalker" by Helen McCloy

Published:  1974
Setting:  Modern Day

I have no idea what time it was when, once again, I became aware of the dark landscape with the silent flicker of lightning along the horizon.

Once again I faced a dark door that must not be opened, two lamps burning on either side of it, one red, one green

How had I got here?  I must go home!

I ran so fast that, like a plane, I became air-borne.  Not merely weightless, like an astronaut in a capsule, but ripping through resistant air with the speed of a jet, hurling over mountains far below with a flash and a  roar.

It was more exhilarating than anything else I have ever experienced or imagined, this flying actively with one's own worrying about landing.  Who ever saw a bird crash on landing?  

Now I was over a sea, banking, circling, descending in a spiral that grew narrower and narrower until there was only myself, a point at the end of a corkscrew, and the dark waters which received me coldly, laving and rocking me in the rise and fall of their billows.

The water was gone.  Everything was gone.

All motion had stopped, from the ponderous wheeling of great galaxies which take billions of years to make a single turn to the lunatic random motion of subatomic particles.  Time itself stopped because time cannot exist without motion...

I was cold.

I groped for a blanket.

My touch couldn't find anything that felt like blanket, but it reached something smooth, hard and cold.  Metal.

There was not metal on my bed.

I opened my eyes.

I was sitting at the wheel of my car, wearing an old raincoat over jeans.  The light came from headlamps and a moon round and radiant as a silver plate...

Back Cover Synopsis:

Marian Tansey appears to be living a happy life. She has great friends, a job in a thrift shop, and she has just bought a new car. She may even be falling in love with Dick Lang, who sold it to her. She could be on top of the world, but there are a few clouds in the sky. 
There is a mystery surrounding the car. It has been 'borrowed' during the night by someone unknown. But most of all there's the frightening fact that, although she hasn't admitted it to any of her friends or colleagues, Marian lost her memory a year or two ago and has no idea who she is. Then, there is a murder...

Best Gothic Elements:  murder, amnesia/fugue, a woman who does not know her own identity stumbles unwittingly into the hands of a killer, missing persons, sleepwalking

During the first fifty pages of this book, I really felt that the whole mystery was going to refer to someone stealing Marian's car and the story would be devoted to finding the culprit....which, to me, sounds like a really boring story with not much depth.

I'm glad I kept reading, though, because there was much more to the story.  What I hated was how none of it was ever really fleshed out.  You never really get to know the life of Mirian before the only get to know her as her new identity as she searches for who she was and why she's sleepwalking.

And when the climax does occur and the secrets are revealed, it is in such a hushed way that you're left wanting more of this story.

The book is easy enough to read (though a bit boring the first 50 or 60 pages).  It does have a creepy, mysterious feel.  So if you're looking for  a quick, cozy read, you'll probably enjoy it.  It's not as much of a gothic romance as I'd hoped.

My Rating:
3 Stars

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