From the Publisher
Following his bestselling debut, Before I Wake,
Robert J. Wiersema returns with this exquisitely plotted blend of
supernatural thriller and domestic drama.
From the Hardcover edition.
For novelist Christopher Knox, getting up early every morning to
write isn't bringing him the sense of fulfillment it once did. It's
been ten years since his first novel was published, to some
acclaim, and he's hit a wall in trying to write his next. His
marriage to Jacqui isn't doing much better, and it's been months
since he's slept anywhere but his office above the detached
The part of Chris's life that is going well, and brings
him easy joy, is his relationship with his eleven-year-old son,
David. While Chris may not make it to all of his son's ball games,
their nightly ritual of reading together at bedtime not only helps
David overcome his struggles with reading, but is a calm within the
storm for them both, when their days are so full of challenges. And
what better way for a novelist to connect with his child than
through their mutual love of books, and a bedtime story routine as
unwavering as Chris's love for his son.
When Chris comes across a book by one of his favourite childhood
authors in a local used bookstore, he knows it will be the perfect
gift for David's birthday. To the Four Directions
is not one Chris has read before, but he knows that
Lazarus Took's adventurous, magical stories of young heroes and
other realms would be just the thing for David, as they were for
him. David is less than thrilled to receive a book he's never heard
of before, however - he'd been hoping for The Lord of the
Rings - and Jacqui is quick to see it as yet another sign
of Chris's detachment from David's life.
But once they start reading the novel together, David is completely
enthralled, to the extent that he truly cannot put the book down.
The story, of a young peasant boy who is plucked from his home by
castle guards and sent on a quest for a mysterious Sunstone, makes
David feel like he is right there, in the action. Even after his
parents have to take the book away from him, he can't help but
sneak it back to his room. As David is reading alone that night, he
suffers an inexplicable seizure and falls into a state of
unconsciousness. Doctors perform a barrage of tests, but cannot
determine what's wrong. And as David's seizure recurs every night,
his father learns that only one thing will calm it: being read to
from his strange new book.
True to his nature, as someone with an inherent belief in the power
of words, Chris becomes convinced that the secret of David's
collapse lies within the pages of To the Four
Directions. After failed attempts to find out more about
Lazarus Took from his estate, Chris traverses the continent in
search of the truth. Meanwhile, David wakes up within the story he
has been reading - as the boy he has been reading about - and finds
himself facing perils unimaginable, in a world that he soon
realizes was created to capture the hearts and souls of children
like him. Because he's not alone as he takes over the hunt for the
Sunstone, but accompanied by those boys who have come before him.
And as the quests of father and son lead them toward a fateful
collision of worlds, David realizes that while he's not the first
to fall victim to the book's horrific spell, perhaps he can prove
himself strong enough to be the last.
About the Author
Robert J. Wiersema was born in Agassiz, British Columbia, in
1970, and has spent his life immersed in books. He attended the
University of Victoria, where he earned an honours degree in
English literature. He has worked in bookstores for the last twenty
years, and is currently the event coordinator at Bolen Books in
Victoria, where he curates one of Canada's most highly regarded
literary events series.
From the Hardcover edition.
In 1999, Wiersema began reviewing books for Quill &
Quire magazine; today, he is one of Canada's most recognized
and respected book reviewers, with his work appearing regularly in
the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the
Edmonton Journal, the Vancouver Sun and numerous
Before I Wake, Wiersema's first novel, was
published in the summer of 2006 to exceptional reviews, went on to
become a national bestseller and was named a Globe and
Mail Best Book for 2006. In 2007, it was shortlisted for the
Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.
Before I Wake has been published in more than a
dozen countries. The World More Full of Weeping, a
novella, was published in 2009, and was shortlisted for the Aurora
Award. His second novel, Bedtime Story, was
published in 2010, and was also a national bestseller. Wiersema's
first work of non-fiction, Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age
with the Music of Bruce Springsteen, will be published in
Despite the success of his books, Wiersema remains dedicated to his
work as a literary journalist and as a bookseller. "I don't
envision myself leaving either bookselling or reviewing behind,"
Wiersema has said. "I like being a part of the conversation, a part
of the ongoing unfolding of writing in this country. I like putting
books in the hands of readers, bringing authors together with their
readers, weighing in on the books themselves. I'm a lifer."
Wiersema lives in Victoria, BC, in a house filled with music and
1. Discuss how Wiersema weaves together the two storylines in
this novel. How did alternating between the two affect your
reading? What are some differences between the two narrative
2. Share your thoughts on Chris and Jacqui's relationship, and
the things that have brought them to the brink of separation. What
sort of resolution, if any, do they come to by the end of the
novel? What do you think the future holds in store?
3. What does Matthias's presence mean to David as he fulfills
his quest in To the Four Directions?
4. Talk about how selflessness, and self-sacrifice, are
exhibited in this novel.
5. Some reviewers have characterized Bedtime
Story as a horror novel - the story of a parent's
worst nightmare - while others would consider it a work of fantasy,
or straight-up literary fiction. How useful are genre labels when
you are discussing the novels you read? Would one label or another
ever deter you from trying a book?
6. Explore the many parallels between the tale of the king and
queen and Dafyd's quest at the heart of To the Four
Directions, and the "real-life" story of Lazarus and Cora
Took and Chris's search for answers.
7. Chris's search for information about Lazarus Took turns into
a crash course in Victorian and twentieth-century occultism. Talk
about how Wiersema uses historical details about ritualistic
societies like Took's to ramp up the tension in Bedtime
8. How has David changed by the end of the novel? What do you
think his return to everyday life will be like?
9. E-mail, newspaper accounts and columns, journal entries . . .
In addition to the novel within this novel, the written word plays
a major role in the unfolding of this story. And the fact that
David, who is struggling with dyslexia in real life, can in fact
read is something he hides from Captain Bream. Talk about the
importance of writing - and being able to read - in Bedtime