26 April 2010

The Somnambulist

I finished The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes yesterday evening.  It is a really weird book.  I really liked the first 80% but the last 20% was just weird and incongruent.  So, you might really enjoy this book if you like the end.

Set in late Victorian London, the main character is Edward Moon, a sort of washed-up Holmes who works as an illusionist/magician. His assistant is a tall, mute, apparently invulnerable man named the Somnambulist.  A couple bizarre murders cause the police to ask for Moon's assistance.  There is also a secret government group, the Directorate, who want Moon to work for them.  There is also what may be a real medium, a man who claims to be from the future, circus freaks, a condemned murderer, a brothel, a long-lost sister, and a very strange club.

I like stories and novels that feel like they've been going on long before you start reading them.  One complaint i have about YA novels is that they often feel like they start on the first page; every action and relationship points forward, not to any past.  The Somnambulist is in a world with a lot of past but seems to have no future.  So many of the questions raised, characters introduced, and past happenings referenced are never explained or finished up.  I really liked the character Cribb, and the Somnambulist too, but i was very unhappy with how the last bit of the novel dealt with them as well as others.  

Overall, a 4 from me.  

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