March 22, 2021

Tim Pratt: "Doors of Sleep"

Title: Doors of Sleep [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Journals of Zaxony Delatree (1st of 2 books)
Author: Tim Pratt [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Multiverse, Sci-Fi
Year: 2021
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age range, but it's suitable for teens)
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Inventive take on the multiverse genre. Original, resourceful side characters.
Cons: Packs in a lot of worlds and adventures without giving them the time to unfold (some get no more than one paragraph). The deuteragonists are stronger than the lead..
Will appeal to: Doctor Who aficionados willing to trade space and time for multiple universes. Fans of cat-and-mouse narratives with a peculiar twist.

Blurb: Every time Zax Delatree falls asleep, he travels to a new reality. He has no control over his destination and never knows what he will see when he opens his eyes. Sometimes he wakes up in technological utopias, and other times in the bombed-out ruins of collapsed civilizations. All he has to live by are his wits and the small aides he has picked up along the way - technological advantages from techno-utopias, sedatives to escape dangerous worlds, and stimulants to extend his stay in pleasant ones. Thankfully, Zax isn't always alone. He can take people with him, if they're unconscious in his arms when he falls asleep. But someone unwelcome is on his tail, and they are after something that Zax cannot spare - the blood running through his veins, the power to travel through worlds... (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Edelweiss. Thanks to Angry Robot for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


Zaxony Delatree is, for all purposes, a not-so-distant cousin of Doctor Who (though the author admits being influenced by Quantum Leap as well). Imagine an alien much like us humans who, instead of hopping through time and space in a TARDIS, travels through different worlds (mind you, not through different versions on the same world) every time he's unconscious...though it's not like the poor guy voluntarily chose that path. Now imagine him having temporary companions (as long as they're willing to be in physical contact with him when he travels, and to actually sleep with him...only not "with him" LOL). And last but not least, imagine him doing his best to save/help the worlds/people he meets along his (multidimensional) way. Oh! And imagine him having an archi-nemesis he used to think of as a friend (though unlike the Master/Missy, the Lector isn't a childhood friend of his). Except, despite all these surface-level similarities, Zax is very much his own character, and his story is very much unique, as are the worlds he visits (seriously, kudos to the author for his endless creativity). Similarly unique are Zax's latest companions: a sort of woman/plant hybrid (for lack of a better word) called Minna and a crystal intelligence named Vicki, both endearing and extremely resourceful, not to mention, with their heart in the right place (yes...the crystal intelligence too). Pratt's creativity shines again in that department, and Minna in particular is an example of resilience and adaptiveness at the same time, very much in tune with her partly plant-like nature, and yet so very human. [...]


Now, as exciting as the concepts and the setting(s) with which this book plays are, at the same time they are its weak spots. While I understand that the author wants to convey a sense of urgency and/or dizziness with the abundance of worlds Zax and his friends visit, and while most of them are awfully original and creative, there are just too many of them - more often than not popping up and going off in the space of a paragraph. While Zax is our main character and the author gave him a potentially strong backstory, the deuteragonists have much more agency than he has (even the altogether stationary Vicki in a way) and are far more resourceful than he is (conveniently so, even, though their tricks keep the book going, so I'm not complaining) - more often than not making for a more compelling narrative. Also, halfway through, there's a temporary change of tense that I couldn't really see a purpose for (unless it's an ARC thing to be fixed later, but that doesn't seem the case to me), and other characters take over as narrators for a while, which was an interesting move, but a bit jarring when it comes to execution. Finally, Doors of Sleep has an inherent feature that can't be helped, what with it being written as a journal: a tendency of telling vs. showing. As I said, there's a valid reason for this, and it didn't bother me that much, but keep it in mind in case you have a pet peeve against that style.
Overall, despite the things I pointed out above, I found Doors of Sleep to be a fresh and captivating addition to the multiverse/sci-fi genre, and I can't wait to hop through universes again with Zax and his friends, plus to find out what caused him to start travelling in the first place - and if he manages to find a forever world in the end.

For my "Prison of Sleep" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For more Adult books click here.
For more Multiverse books click here.
For more Sci-Fi books click here.


  1. I've always liked multiverse stories. And having never read Dr. who, I'm still curious about the TARDIS and whatnot. This is such a cool idea. It's unfortunate thatthe breakneck pace of the universe hopping marred it a bit, but still.. this sounds pretty good. That's a rather unique way of taking people with you, I must say. lol

    1. Same about multiverse stories! I also like the ones where the main character ends up in a different version of their world (or more), though I've always wondered where the original occupant of that universe(s) was in the meantime. Like, did they swap places? The stories never say LOL.

      This is such a unique book/trilogy!

    2. Ha right? Oh my gosh did you ever read Dark Matter by Blake crouch? I want to mention something that happens there but don't want to spoil it in case you ever read it. It's a TRIP.

    3. I got interested in it at some point, but some reviews mentioned it was very I backed out LOL.

    4. I suppose it is, a little bit, but oh man... the craziness at the end= priceless! :)

  2. That sounds fun. Multiverses aren't something I've read a lot of but the couple of books that I have read with that as a theme was very intriguing.

    1. Endless possibilities! What's not to love? 😉


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