A Thousand Sleeps
by Mike Taylor
BookVenture Publishing

"'I want you both to pay very close attention to what I have to say. This story I’m about to tell you came to me in a dream.'"

The children of Goose Creek, much like those of many small mountain towns, are well-versed in the lore of strange creatures or ghosts inhabiting the mountain woods. Stories of Ben Walkman have been staple lore for the inhabitants of Goose Creek since his disappearance and presumed death for sixty years. In Taylor’s novel, secrets, greed, and deception abound like Goose Creek’s surrounding foliage, and as the town has moved from its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century into a more progressive and enlightened era, so does the truth emerge from the dark recesses of its mountain woods.

Goose Creek’s beginning seems innocent enough with the collaborative efforts of its three main founders, but as greed works its evil on one of them, what remains is a mystery and a family dynasty built from the blood of others. Judge Roy Appleton builds a legacy for his family through brutal, unbridled ambition—a character trait he demands from each succeeding generation. Friends Ben, Al, and Tom become entangled in Appleton’s dealings with their fathers. When Ben, in order to escape the misfortune of an unhappy and unsustainable marriage, takes his dog and gun and heads for the mountains never to be seen again, the remaining two find themselves in peril with each subsequent generation of the Appleton clan. However, Ben’s two friends have hope for his future return due to the prophetic proclamations of Miss Perkins, the town’s recluse and seer. After Ben’s sixty-year absence, he arrives at the cabin of his old friend Al without any memory of the last six decades. Has Ben lived upon his own talents of hunting and foraging in the mountains for these long years, or is something else afoot in Goose Creek?

This novel has all the ingredients that keep readers up at night, eagerly turning pages. Written to include several generations of Goose Creek’s population, it hosts an array of plot twists and thrilling scenarios in an intriguing plot. Its villains have an abundance of cruelty and evil plotting, and its protagonists, though likable and kind, are also skilled in the Old West style of taking care of business. Though the span of the novel covers almost a hundred years and four generations of the self-proclaimed founding father, Judge Roy Appleton, the author’s skill in storytelling makes for seamless transitions between past and present. It is always a joy to read a novel with plot elements as surprising to the reader as they are to its characters. This book delivers and leaves the reader guessing until the very end.

The inclusion of magical realism hits just the right balance in Taylor’s work—not too copious or too meager for lovers of the genre. With its magical elements occurring around or in nature, it echoes stories from childhood such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The author’s magical focus includes human interaction with fantastical creatures and animals as well as a seer’s prophecy, yet these elements are so well-employed, they are as integral to the reader’s enjoyment as the dark, psychological make-up of its generations of Appletons. Taylor has carved out a study of ruthless greed and its consequences filled with surprises and just downright good storytelling. This is a novel that is sure to please readers looking for an exceptionally entertaining story.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home