Monday, May 04, 2009

What a cast of characters!

Title: The Somnambulist
Author: Jonathan Barnes
Be warned. This book has no literary value whatsoever. It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and willfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you'll believe a word of it (p. 5, opening paragraph)
The narrator of The Somnambulist, an unidentified writer who admits that he has at times both embellished and completely deviated from the truth, tells the tale of Edward Moon, a washed up magician whose show contains elements that may not be simply tricks of the eye. Case in point: the Somnambulist, his mute milk-loving assistant, who endures swords being stuck through his chest during Edward's act.

Edward also sometimes moonlights as a detective for the London police and is called on early in the book to assist with a heinous, mystifying crime. While attempting to solve the case, he encounters such characters as the Archivist, The Human Fly, Samuel Taylor Cooleridge, the albino Mr. Skimpole, and Thomas Cribb, a man who is living life backwards - going from the future to the present to the past. He also uncovers a secret organization known simply as Love, Love, Love, and Love.

With its occasional foray into the world of the supernatural, Jonathan Barnes' dark novel reminded me of something Neil Gaiman would write. Definitely worth checking out. I am looking forward to reading more of his second novel, The Domino Men.

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posted by Kate at 11:33 AM


Blogger -M said...

Four magically wonderful words: Zombie Samuel Taylor Coleridge

5/04/2009 8:32 PM  

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