The Somnambulist

The Somnambulist

Book - 2008
Average Rating:
3
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A tale set in Victorian London introduces the characters of a stage magician and detective and his silent sidekick, whose fiendish plot to re-create the apocalyptic prophecies of Samuel Taylor Coleridge threaten the British Empire.
Publisher: New York : William Morrow & Co, [2008]
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780061375385
0061375381
Characteristics: 353 p. ; 22 cm.

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JCLJaredH Mar 14, 2013

The Somnabulist is one of the creepiest stories I have read in sometime. It is a tale of strange and freaky characters, weird mysteries, and dark places. I could almost hear the creepy music playing in the background while reading. It reads like something out Ripley's Believe it Or Not or Weird Tales. I found it to be one of those books that you are not sure you like, but you have to finish just find out the ending. It is listed as steampunk, but I would hesitate to classify it in that genre as there is only one Frankenstein moment in the story. Also try Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi or League of Extraordinary Gentleman by Alan Moore.

a
andrewgraphics
Jun 17, 2012

Enjoyable pot-boiler set in the end of the Victorian Era, but found it a lot of smoke and no fire: main character is supposed to be a wonder at solving mysteries, but we don't see any of this in action really; strange and wonderful characters throughout, but kind of like side show attractions (at times, literally) in that there is no depth to them. Would have been more interesting if there was a little more thought given to the characters themselves.

SB2000 Nov 21, 2011

A strange, nightmarish novel, excellently drawn and very fast paced.

It is not just the title that suggests that all the characters are sleepwalking in a vivid dream. Barnes convincingly captures the narrative voice of the lunatic convinced that he is sane. The author is obviously having a lot of fun in his Victorian London, relishing his menagerie of grotesques and characters with a few deftly drawn strokes.

He manages the trick of making us sympathise with all of them as the points of view slip and slide - and like all tricksters - or dreams, you are never quite sure whether you are really on firm ground. His creation of the "Prefects" are an absurdity that shouldn't work but, very chillingly, do.

It ends with an enigma and like most dreams, it has that narcotic quality that jumbles images and characters and incidents while still making sense and forming a strong narrative whole. When you wake, you are left with a lingering sense of wanting to go back for more, even as you realise that it is slipping just beyond your grasp.

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