"Imagine a world in which the last Ice Age never ended..."
So begins author Jeffrey E. Barlough's introduction to his Western Lights series, one specially prepared for this website.
The Western Lights books are set in an Ice Age North America that might have been, had historical -- and prehistorical -- events followed a different course. The novels -- Dark Sleeper (2000), The House in the High Wood (2001), Strange Cargo (2004), Bertram of Butter Cross (2007), Anchorwick (2008), and A Tangle in Slops (2011) -- have been widely praised by readers and reviewers alike for their imaginative setting, eccentric characters, droll humor, and unconventional storylines.
Author Barlough likes to point out that the books are as much mystery novels as they are fantasies -- mystery novels which happen to take place in an imagined, alternative earth where magic and the supernatural are as real as the Ice Age monsters that prowl its lands, skies, and seas.
"Although the books can be viewed as mysteries with a fantasy setting, or as fantasies with a mystery setting," Barlough explains, "it is the mystery element that I work out first when designing the story and characters. It is liberating for a mystery writer to be allowed to include elements of fantasy and the supernatural in his books."
In a departure from common practice, Barlough has constructed each volume of the Western Lights series as an individual, stand-alone story with its own plot line and its own cast of memorable characters. Occasionally a character from one book may reappear or be mentioned in another; in general, however, the novels are complete in and of themselves and need not be read in any particular order.
"Although there is one exception to that," Barlough says. It seems that the fifth book in the series, Anchorwick, can be viewed as a sort of "prequel" to the others. "In Anchorwick I have returned to the scene of Dark Sleeper -- the ancient city of Salthead and its fabled university. The time, however, is some thirty years before the events of Dark Sleeper, and certain characters from that novel reappear in the new one as their younger selves."
The new seventh volume in the series, the highly-anticipated What I Found at Hoole, has been published by Gresham & Doyle and is available for sale. For a preview, click here.
The Western Lights books can be purchased from Amazon.com and affiliated retailers.
Editor's Tip. For those new to the series click here to read author Barlough's specially-prepared intro-duction to the Western Lights books and learn about the world of "the sundering."
Acknowledgment. Our thanks are extended to Mr. Gary Barlough, brother of the author, for his assistance in the preparation of this website.