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Jonathan Carroll defined
on 22 September 2002
This is the second of the six books John Clute has called "The Answered Prayers Sequence". Due to the vagaries of publishers re-printing schedules it was the last of the six I read but for me it is one of the peaks of the sequence along with A Child Across the Sky and From the Teeth of Angels.
We enter the world of Walker Easterling a bit part actor and hopeful scriptwriter living in Vienna and follow him fallng in love with Maris York, a woman with a past. Just another of many stories on such themes you think and that is how the book progresses for perhaps the first third, which is when things start to get weird. Walker seems to have a past of his own, a past he does not know about but which he must recall and decipher to solve the problems of his present. Following the death of his friend and Director Nicholas Sylvian, Walker is contacted by Hollywood Director Weber Gregston (the link to Bones of the Moon the first book of the sequence) and he is off to California to take a role in a major new movie and to meet the people who will help to solve his personal riddles.
Sleeping In Flame has all the trademarks of the great Carroll novel. Carroll sucks us in with believable characters and great storytelling. With subtle shifts of scene and story we gradually move from the world we know into one decidedly disturbing and differrent but because of the starting position it remains very believable. Despite Bones of the Moon (much more of a Fantasy) this is where Answered Prayers really starts in earnest. As Carroll himself has said he did not know he was writing a series until Gregston makes the phone call halfway through the book. Gregston himself would play the lead in A Child Across the Sky (the third book) and here we also meet Harry Radcliffe the architect protagonist of the 4th book Outside the Dog Museum. Jonathan Carroll writes about the human condition, its transiency and shows why we should not always achieve what we desire.