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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Somnanbulist

What an odd book!

This is, however, the kind of fantasy that I really enjoy these days -- off-beat, relatively short, creative, and not dragons and wizards and elves. In fact, you (probably?) won't even find this book listed as fantasy; look in the "Mystery" section instead.

Aging magician and private detective Edward Moon is called upon to tackle a brutal murder in Victorian London. Joining him is the placid, mute, and bloodless giant (with a predilection for milk) known as The Somnambulist -- Mr. Moon's partner and friend.

This novel is a novel of characters. The plot itself is so bizarre that it hardly matters; at times the novel seems to be more a sinister opium dream than a story. (Avoid if you prefer sunshine and puppies, but the story, while gruesome, is not deliberately frightening.) Instead, the author (Jonathan Barnes) sketches such wonderful and quirky characters that one simply has to read more and more just to spend more time with them.

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