Book: The Somnambulist

Title: The Somnambulist
Author: Jonathan Barnes
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 353 pgs.

Summary: Edward Moon, the great detective magician, is past his prime and no longer guaranteed a spot at the tables of the upper crust. When a bizarre case falls into his lap, Moon is sure this will be his greatest and last adventure; his constant and silent companion, The Somnambulist,  warns Moon that this will end badly as assassins from other worlds intervene.

Excerpt:

pg 1 – Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and wilfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you’ll believe a word of it.

pg 92 – Forgive me if the above sounds condescending—I add this last detail only for the benefit of the ignorant and for tourists. I should hope my readers educated enough to recognize the significance of Wren’s achievement without it being explained to them, but regrettable it remains the case that one must always make allowances for dullards. I cannot police the readers of this manuscript and it is a sad and tragic truth that I have never yet succeeded in underestimating the intelligence of the general public.

Why should you read this book?

Well, the inside cover tells me to “remember the name Jonathan Barnes…for he has burst upon the literary scene with a breathtaking and brilliant, frightening and hilarious, dark invention that recalls Neil Gaiman…read on…and be astonished!”

I’m sad to say that I was not impressed, no matter how the inside cover encouraged me to be suitably astonished and bewildered. I was bewildered, but only because I continued to read the book despite the very annoying, self-indulgent narrator who liked to tell me that the entire chapter I just read was a bald-faced lie. This narrator reminded me of all the arrogant guys in my life that I’ve avoided, and it was only by fierce willpower that I got to the end, which was, thankfully, interesting and well-written.

Read this book if you’re interested in taking complete advantage of the first person narration so your reader questions what is true and what isn’t. And if you want to leave them confused and a little annoyed by the end of the last page.

14 thoughts on “Book: The Somnambulist

  1. You know, when I was still shelving books I came across The Somnambulist. I was thisclose to reading it, but I read a line on page 1 (same on you posted above, actually) and shut it right away. Glad to see I made the right choice! 🙂

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  2. You know, when I was still shelving books I came across The Somnambulist. I was thisclose to reading it, but I read a line on page 1 (same on you posted above, actually) and shut it right away. Glad to see I made the right choice! 🙂

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  3. Yes, you made a very good decision. I had wanted to like this book so much and came away very disappointed.

    In other news not related to writing, I’m officially in the middle of my graduate orientation week. And I’m already tired.

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  4. Yes, you made a very good decision. I had wanted to like this book so much and came away very disappointed.

    In other news not related to writing, I’m officially in the middle of my graduate orientation week. And I’m already tired.

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  5. I read all of Somnambulist… I loved it for the first 100 pages or so. (I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan and the warning at the beginning just made me want to read). But then, somewhere in the middle, I felt like I didn’t understand what was happening anymore and I hate feeling stupid as a reader. I’ve told several people to skip this title too…

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  6. I read all of Somnambulist… I loved it for the first 100 pages or so. (I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan and the warning at the beginning just made me want to read). But then, somewhere in the middle, I felt like I didn’t understand what was happening anymore and I hate feeling stupid as a reader. I’ve told several people to skip this title too…

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  7. I don't know…I love Neil Gaiman but that beginning just turned me off. I know Gaiman has done something similar, but it didn't give me such a negative reaction.

    And I agree. Halfway through the book I felt like I lost complete control of the plot, the twists, and even the characters. And the ending didn't make any sense to me, especially the last page.

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  8. I don’t know…I love Neil Gaiman but that beginning just turned me off. I know Gaiman has done something similar, but it didn’t give me such a negative reaction.

    And I agree. Halfway through the book I felt like I lost complete control of the plot, the twists, and even the characters. And the ending didn’t make any sense to me, especially the last page.

    Like

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