I wanted to like this book, because I like Graham Masterton. This British wordsmith has been cranking out tales of horror, mystery and suspense for close to four decades. The Manitou is a classic in the horror genre, and Masterton always crafts his stories with folklore, fairytales, and gritty characters.
All those elements are in The Sleepless, but they don’t gel the way they do in Masterton’s better works (like Charnel House, Family Portrait, or Mirror) . The novel’s racial themes seem forced, the action sequences are sometimes senseless, and there are a couple of over-the-top graphic sex scenes that are both gratuitous and perplexing. Toss in a couple of formatting errors and crucial typos, and you’re left with a less-than-satisfying read. (During a climactic scene, a father and son team-up to beat a bad guy, but the text claims the boy, “came to do what his fattier could not do himself.” There goes that touching, “fattier and son” moment!)
You can’t blame Masterton for formatting errors. That responsibility falls to the ebook publisher, Cemetery Dance Publications. This novel has a dated feel, too, and a peek at the copyright shows Masterton first published it in 1993. You have to wonder why CD Publications would choose to release this novel as part of its ebook line. The company has published limited print editions by some of the best SF/horror/fantasy writers of all time: Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Stephen King, Jack Ketcham. Why are none of these masterworks offered digitally by Cemetery Dance? Where’s the backlist? Where is the complete line of Richard Laymon ebooks?
CD Publications needs to step up its game, stop sandbagging, and put its best foot — and authors — forward. Graham Masterton is awesome. The Sleepless is not. CD needs to offer a better quality ebook — something at least on par with its print line — if it wants readers to follow into the digital frontier.