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Friday, February 29, 2008

The Sonambulist

Barnes, Jonathan. The Sonambulist. Described by someone as reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and of China Mieville's Perdito Street Station, this novel can only be described as bizarre. I toyed with using Eva's 6 word review for this and came up with: Bizarre - murders, freaks, magician, poet, time-travel. Of course, as time-travel is hyphenated, it counts as one word. My rule. :) But decided to give a little additional information.

Edward Moon, magician/detective, and his current partner the Sonambulist become involved in some strange murders in Victorian London. The narrator lets you know from the beginning that he has problems with Moon, admits to lying on occasion, and informs the reader that he will tell you when he has lied.

Initially, I was rather enjoying the novel, but by the end, something failed to coalesce. Maybe it was because the characters were all so separate. For example, Moon's connections to the Sonambulist, to his former partner, to Mrs. Grossman, to Merryweather, to his sister, etc. never seem to quite gel for me. Like puzzle pieces that you know should fit together, but that have to be forced.... By the time the identity of the narrator was revealed, I'd lost much of my interest in the resolution.

Fiction. Mystery/fantasy? 2007. 353 pages.


  1. I've got this one waiting for me. I'm looking forward to it mainly because of the whole Victorian thing that is has going on :)
    I'll let you know how I like it.

  2. That's an awesome six word review. :) I agree: hyphenated words are only one! It's frustrating when I book doesn't come together the way you expect it to.

  3. The book did take an interesting turn towards the end that left me wanting. I think you make a good point about the characters being so separate. I did enjoy a good part of this book, which made me glad I go the chance to read it. Bizarre is a good word to describe it though.

  4. iliana - I like Victorian settings and magicians, too. Eager to hear what you think.

    Eva - It is frustrating when certain elements interest you, but the book doesn't quite live up to what you expect. I know a lot of people will probably like this one, but I'm not a big Gaiman fan and couldn't get into Perdito Street Station.

    L.F. - It was bizarre wasn't it? I kind of liked Thomas Cribb, but didn't feel like that element was resolved. And I'd like to know why the Sonambulist didn't like him...since they'd known each other before in history.