Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Review: "The Somnambulist"

It's been a long time since I've read a book quite as strange as Jonathan Barnes' debut novel The Somnambulist (recently out from William Morrow). Filled with fiendishly odd characters, a whole mess of entirely unexplained subplots, unreliable narrators, shady conspiracies and a healthy dose of the neo-Gothic, this is a bizarre, not-entirely-satisfying volume that does - I think - exactly what it intends to do.

I found The Somnambulist demanded a close read just to keep all the various lines straight (and even then I don't think I quite managed it all the time). It held my attention very well, mainly because I had no idea what was coming next or whose perspective it was going to come from (or which long-dead English poet would suddenly appear and start rampaging, Hulk-like, through downtown London).

Incredibly weird, but puzzlingly fun.

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