The reader is cleverly hooked into thinking it’s a straightforward historical mystery.
Father Christopher Fairfax is a priest sent to the Wessex village of Addicot St. George, where the local priest has died. He is tasked with conducting the burial. He becomes suspicious of the way the priest had died, and also of the heretical activities in which he had been engaged. He gets to know some of the villagers, and with them, he starts to investigate.
“If the ancients were foolish enough to trade with airy tokens, ’tis no wonder they were ruined”
“Swaying in his saddle, Fairfax peered down at the village – the mushroom huddle of brown thatched roofs, the square grey church tower with its orbiting black specks of soundless rooks, the silvery glint of the river. He wondered what it might have been like in Morganstern’s day. Perhaps not so different. He could imagine the same suspicion of outsiders and eagerness to gossip, the same prejudices, superstitions, rumours. Of course, the inhabitants would not have been so isolated then.”~From “The Second Sleep” by Robert Harris
- The Guardian: “The Second Sleep develops into something more contemplative: an exploration of a world that is both unfamiliar and as old as time, and of the consequences of our flagrant disregard for the existential perils of our own era. A convincingly imagined future world requires a steady accretion of small, telling details and there are sections in Harris’s novel that feel frustratingly inconsistent or approximate.”
- Financial Times: “When Harris is at his best — and here he is — he writes with a skill and ingenuity that few other novelists can match. In this case, the usual page-turning pleasures are joined by something else: a sense that, through his historical-futuristic setting, Harris has found a unique vantage point to comment on the present.”