An alternate world where humans hibernate, dreams go viral, and winter is not just cold, but deadly.
Good to know
Every Winter, the human population hibernates.
During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity.
Well, not quite.
Your name is Charlie Worthing and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.
You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind.
When the dreams start to kill people, it's unsettling.
When you get the dreams too, it's weird.
When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.
But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping, and stamp collecting, ensure you aren't eaten by Nightwalkers, whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk.
But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you'll be fine.
Why I love it
Zip up your snowsuit and grab your pillow and blanket! It’s time for a chilling, sharply funny novel, where humans hibernate half the year, and dreaming can be deadly. Welcome to the delightfully zany world of Jasper Fforde!
Charlie Worthing is a new recruit with the Winter Consuls, the scrappy agency that watches over the lucky tranche of humanity that gets to hibernate through each brutal winter instead of risking frozen limbs, starvation, and death. What’s his first day on the job like? Well, his mentor is immediately assassinated, a viral dream is killing off hibernators, and that’s just the beginning. Throw in cannibalistic Nightwalkers, the dreaded WinterVolk people, and the other undesirables he must deal with while being awake, and you’ve got all the makings of a very fun adventure story. Can Charlie save the day?
I’m trying hard not to gush here, but I have been a diehard Jasper Fforde fan since his first novel, and this one makes me SO HAPPY! Fforde has such an incredible talent for witty dialogue, and the imagination he pours into this novel is astounding. I loved how the exposition builds and builds, gaining momentum like a runaway snowball, until its fabulous conclusion. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a first-time Fforde reader, this novel is ffun for everyone!
Member ratings (5,236)
I’ve had to change my rating from “liked” to “loved” because here I am, several months and many books later, STILL thinking about Early Riser and wanting more from Fforde. Perhaps worthy of a reread!?
I’m such a sucker for dystopian novels! This book stole my attention and the plot was completely unexpected and origonal. I loved getting to know the different characters, and the society they live in
Yorba Linda, CA
A new top favorite of all time. So many twists and turns, meaningful characters, wonderful story building, and a plot I'll never forget. Listen to the songs in the book for a chilling effect. Perfect.
Funny, whimsical, wonderfully bizarre with some pointed social commentary. Perfect reading for late fall with a hot drink and a fire. It takes a few chapters to get oriented but then you’re hooked.
Not gonna lie, the first 20 pages made me question whether I would be able to read this book, since you have to learn a whole new world. BUT I’m so glad I stuck with it. What an amazing book. 10/10