Saturday, January 13, 2007

Somnambulist review

This was my entry in the Gollancz/SFX reviewing Competition which ran recently. It didn't win, but got an honourable mention...

"The Somnambulist" is published in February.

“The Somnambulist” begins with a murder and continues apace as the book’s wry and bitter anonymous narrator introduces our hero: Edward Moon, stage magician, mystic, detective and fading doyen of society, and his friend and partner, The Somnambulist.

This is a Victorian London that is familiar but twisted. Populated by an extraordinary assemblage of grotesque, freakish, memorable characters, it is reminiscent of “Neverwhere” & “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

Despite Moon’s deductive ability and The Somnambulist’s apparent invulnerability they find themselves drawn into a dangerous secret conspiracy that threatens the very fabric and soul of London. Thwarted by an arsonist albino government agent and his fake Chinese henchmen, Moon is aided and baffled in equal measure by a man who claims to be living backwards from the future to the past, while his greatest enemy makes gnomic pronouncements from his prison cell.

The investigation becomes personal as Moon’s housekeeper is killed and his sister is entangled in the wiles of a religious cult that venerates the poet Coleridge.

As events come to a head, and a malefic Doctor prepares to unleash an army of murderous fanatics on the City of London, the Sleeper stirs beneath the capital, and the Prefects : a perfect and deadly blend of Mr. Croup & Mr. Vandemar and the “suits you, sir” tailors from the Fast Show, hunt and kill more and more indiscriminately.

The Somnambulist is trapped in the cult’s underground lair; Moon’s sister is brainwashed and deeply implicated; The Sleeper is awakened but highly unstable; and the streets of the City are awash with blood … How can Edward Moon save the day?

Jonathan Barnes has created a fast-paced and lurid penny ‘orrible which is full of references to period literature both obvious and obscure.

More Moon, soon, please?

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