Title: The Sleeping Soldier
Author: Aster Glenn Gray
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 350 Pages
Category: Historical, Remixed Fairy Tale
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: As is the way of fairy tales, there’s a lesson to be learned in The Sleeping Soldier. And it’s Caleb who must learn it. The sweet and satisfying happy ending isn’t unforeseen but is earned.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: After a century-long sleep, a Union soldier wakes up in 1965.
Cavalry lieutenant Russell Krause is all at sea in this strange new century of electric lights and automobiles. But he soon acquires a guide: Caleb O’Connor, a kind-hearted, history-loving college student with secrets he’s desperate to hide. Caleb is gay, and he’s completely smitten with this lively, warm-hearted soldier, who has swiftly become his best friend.
But Russell’s nineteenth century understanding of friendship is far more affectionate than any 1960s friendship is allowed to be. In between telling Russell about escalators, record players, and the Civil Rights movement, Caleb has to explain that men in 1965 are no longer allowed to hold hands or share beds or kiss… which is tough, because Caleb would love to be kissing Russell.
Despite these chilling changes in social customs, Caleb and Russell’s loving friendship grows ever closer. But the cultural divide may prove wider than even love can bridge.
Review: “Now, our story seems to show/That a century or so/Late or early, matters not/True love comes by fairy-lot.” ~ Charles Perrault ~ The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
Aster Glenn Gray’s The Sleeping Soldier offers a little taste of history mingled with familiar motifs from a classic fairy tale. As an infant, a curse was laid upon Russell Krause to sleep for a hundred years—a curse that is fulfilled during the Civil War and can only be lifted with true love’s kiss. There is a twist, though, several in fact, and things are all the more complicated as Russell attempts to acclimate to 1965 and the many things that have changed since his own time—some for the better and some for the worse.
Russell is the proverbial fish out of water when Caleb O’Connor takes on the role of mentor to the former soldier and while Russell acclimates well to school and makes friends of his fellow students easily, owing to his natural charm and good will, there are some social norms from his time that, to society’s detriment, have not carried over to the 20th century. In short, Caleb tries to make Russell unlearn some of that charm and good will out of a sense of preservation. Homophobia plays a key role in this.
As is the way of fairy tales, there’s a lesson to be learned in The Sleeping Soldier. And it’s Caleb who must learn it. The sweet and satisfying happy ending isn’t unforeseen but is earned.
You can buy The Sleeping Soldier here: