It’s an astonishingly assured debut novel with a fast-paced, quirky and absorbing plot. Dreaming of joining the brotherhood of Acapulcan cliff-divers, young Mikey Hough rigs a diving platform in the garden of his suburban Berkshire home. Two years later, when he awakes from his coma, Mikey befriends Roger, an elderly ex-pilot hospitalised when his precious Distinguished Flying Cross was violently stolen from him.
Mikey soon learns that his own disastrous attempt at flight has damaged his Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, destroying his ability to sleep.
The medical profession can do nothing for him. He is sent home from hospital to die. One night, a despondent Mikey stumbles across Livia, the cynical teenage ward of a neighbouring councilman. Together they decide to track down Roger’s stolen medal.
So begins a remarkable, picaresque journey into the dark heart of suburban England, during which the fearless Mikey and Livia confront a sprawling cast of pensioners, policemen and criminals – including the profoundly sinister man-child ‘The Fat Controller’. As they hurtle towards daybreak, they persuade Roger to undertake one last, gut-wrenching sortie into the night skies. Not exactly a run-of-the-mill tale. But along the way the book manages to tackle some important universal themes – the nature of risk and reward and society’s attitudes towards outsiders.
The Sleepwalker’s Introduction to Flight is a heart-rending and riotous mini-epic, a brilliantly subversive coming-of-age tale about what happens when dark and light collide, and society’s marginalised find their voice. As a side note readers may be interested to note that much of the manuscript was actually written in Singapore.